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After five years of looking for the right place, Wild Root Market has committed to buying 500 Walton Avenue for its co-operative grocery store.

The cost, including working capital, is estimated to be between $3 to $4 million. But the store is expected to generate $7 million in annual sales and employ 40 people, said Rose Nelson, president of Wild Root Market.

Announcing the news at Gateway Technical College to its members Tuesday night, attendees applauded the news.

“We’re confidant that this site has the attributes for the perfect store,” Nelson said. “It’s right-sized. It’s centrally located. It has ample parking both by the store and across the street. We believe it will be a true neighborhood store and that it will bring a badly needed resource to this area.”

The food co-op model allows community members to buy shares in a for-profit store, but it is democratically controlled by its members. So they would have a vote in how the store would be operated. The Wild Root Market board, operated by volunteers, started in the fall of 2011 and now has over 800 co-op members that want to see a food co-op open in Racine.

People do not need to be co-op members to shop at the store.

The 12,000 square foot building exceeded their ideal store size of 8,000 square feet, Nelson said.

The building, which served as a medical office, is owned by Mount Pleasant-based Iglesia Evangelica Restauracion Inc. Officials intend to file a rezoning request and seek a conditional use permit with the city. Once the conditions have been met per the purchase agreement, they plan to secure financing for the property by the fall.

Paul Holley, a Wild Root member, said he is pleased about the location choice.

“I believe it has the potential to perform well,” he said.

Wild Root Market received a $10,000 grant from the Food Co-op Initiative in May. The grant came with board and team monitoring, site evaluation assistance from co-op development experts, help with kicking off a capital campaign, and mentoring on marketing and membership growth.

Typically starting up a food co-op takes about three to nine years. Wild Root is coming up on its sixth year.

Wild Root Market officials now hope to grow its membership to 1,500 by the time the store opens, which is expected to happen in the summer of 2018.

For more information about Wild Root, click here.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.