Last updated on July 21st, 2020 at 11:34 am
After just one year in business, Maurer’s Urban Market is preparing to close its doors in downtown Milwaukee.
The grocery store, located on the ground floor of Northwestern Mutual’s 7Seventy7 apartment building on North Van Buren Street, will begin liquidation sales next week, with plans to officially close in about 30 days, said owner Jeff Maurer in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee Friday afternoon.
Sales have dropped significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and with ongoing uncertainty about when business would return to normal, it wasn’t financially feasible to continue operating the downtown Milwaukee store, said Maurer.
“Nobody is able to guess how long this situation is going to last, and how long people will be working from home rather than going downtown,” he said.
Events had become a major part of the business, driving both catering sales and foot traffic, so cancellations of this summer’s large downtown gatherings including Summerfest, Bastille Days, Jazz in the Park and the Democratic National Convention were a huge loss. The business also relied on the downtown workforce, which has largely transitioned out of surrounding office towers to remote work due to the pandemic.
Maurer said business had been gaining momentum prior to the pandemic, and he was excited about the once-vibrant future of downtown Milwaukee.
“We felt we were a little bit ahead of our time, but as everything was being built around us, we felt very confident that the long term for that store was very viable,” he said.
The store’s landlord, Northwestern Mutual, was supportive of the decision to close, said Maurer. The two businesses have worked out a deal in which Maurer’s will empty the space of all inventory, but leave the equipment, in case Northwestern Mutual can’t secure a new tenant.
“Certainly, they need to find a tenant that can pay rent and not leave that space empty, but if they’re unable to find a tenant and if downtown gets back to somewhat normal, we may reopen,” said Maurer. “We want to leave the equipment there so hopefully one day we could walk back in and stock the shelves.”
Until then, Maurer will focus on his Wisconsin Dells store where business is “extremely strong,” especially now that tourists have begun to return to the resort town.