Planning efforts underway to form Whitewater grocery co-op

City lacking grocery store since Sentry closed in 2015

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

In October 2015, Sentry Foods in Whitewater announced it was unable to compete with the Walmart Supercenter store located next door and would close its doors at the end of the year.

Whitewater straddles both Walworth and Jefferson counties. It has a quaint Main Street with small shops, restaurants and bars that cater to the 12,000 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students who inhabit the city during the school year.

Walmart began selling groceries in 2011, but losing Sentry in 2015, meant losing the city’s only grocery store.

In 2016, a group of Whitewater residents began working to bring a full-service farm-to-table grocery store to the community.

Two years later, the Whitewater Grocery Co. has signed up 387 co-op members. The group officially incorporated on April 4 with the hopes of signing up the 1,000 members needed to  begin a capital campaign.

Once the organization reaches 500 members, they can move on to the next step in the development process, which includes developing a business plan and location analysis, said Lacey Reichwald, Whitewater Grocery Co. board president.

“The mission of this group is to support farm-to-table eating, to be a model of environmental sustainability, to stimulate the local economy, and to create a third space  for the Whitewater community,” Reichwald said.

Through a preliminary market study, Reichwald said the group believes Whitewater can support a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot full-service grocery store and has established an office space at the Whitewater Innovation Center.

To become a vested owner of the Whitewater Grocery Co., individuals are asked to make a one-time payment of $150.

“The more people we have invested, the more influence we have with lenders and developers,” Reichwald said.

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