Grocery co-op effort picking up steam this year

By Dave Fidlin


Efforts toward bringing a cooperative-type grocery store to Whitewater are picking up steam, organizers announced recently.

Lacey Reichwald is one of six members serving on a steering committee that has gone into the nuts and bolts of bringing a co-op to the city at a time when Whitewater lacks a full-service grocer.

“A co-op can look just like a traditional grocery store,” Reichwald said June 6 as she came before the Common Council and offered up a progress report on the behind-the-scenes logistics of establishing such an operation.

The organization has established a logo and name, Whitewater Grocery Co., and is in the midst of bringing owners on board. As of the June 6 meeting, Reichwald said the coop has secured 166 owners.

In keeping with the coop model, Whitewater Grocery Co. is aimed at having a voluntary, open ownership. Every member into the coop would have a vote and voice in decision-making, Reichwald said, and the entire entity would be autonomous from a traditional corporate structure.

Whitewater Grocery Co. is vigorously seeking member owners, Reichwald said. Based on research from past scenarios, Reichwald said 1,000 owners would be needed before the doors could open.

Talk of opening a co-op in the city picked up steam after Sentry closed its doors in late 2015. But Reichwald said talks of a co-op preceded the announcement.

In 2009, Reichwald said an effort was made to establish an organic coop that would have co-existed alongside Sentry. Over time, that effort fizzled, though the concept always lurked in the background.

Reichwald said she frequently fields a common question from people interested in knowing more about the proposal: If Sentry could not make a go of it in Whitewater, how could a co-op?

“There’s local control,” Reichwald said. “Decisions are made locally, based on local knowledge.”

Further updates on the coop are planned in the months ahead.


Comments are closed.