Northside residents finally have something to cheer about. Two years after Kohl's Grocery Store was bought out and closed down, a small crowd gathered to watch Sunday as the new grocer was unveiled.
The tenant is Pierce's Northside Market.
Normally, the unveiling of a new grocery store doesn't come with such fanfare, but residents say the area has been a 'food desert' since Kohl's shut down.
The nearest store was a few miles away, and many of the area's poor and elderly weren't able to get there without special assistance.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz ordered the city to help the shopping center secure a new grocer. "It's great news for the northside. It's been a while in coming, but a lot of people pulled together to make this happen, most notably the neighborhood itself."
Many larger grocery store chains said there wasn't enough business to support their store. Pierce's is a family owned chain based in Baraboo, and General Manager Jeff Maurer says their own study says area demographics work just fine for them. "We like operating smaller stores. We have a very low overhead. We don't have a large corporate structure. We don't have an investment group that we have to answer to. It's our family."
Another positive about Pierce's is it won't drive out the newly formed Northside Farmer's Market. "They'll be here to buy their produce on a Sunday morning, but day in and day out they'll be patronizing the grocery store," says Cieslewicz.
"I think it's going to be very complimentary to one another. I think it will be very good," agrees longtime resident Martha Schurch.
"I think it's going to be a good mix because this is only for a short time during the summer while Pierce's you'll be buying there year round," says resident Pat Kennedy.
Pierce's Northside Market will open next February.
Along with the new grocery store, the old Sherman Plaza is getting a makeover. It will now be called the Northside TownCenter, and it will include new stores and new apartments nearby.