What is Wild Root Market?

Wild Root Market will be a full-service, cooperatively owned grocery store in Racine focusing on natural, organic, and local food. As a cooperative, it will be member-owned but will be open to the public for shopping. 

What is a co-op?

Cooperative businesses are owned and controlled by their member-owners and are not subject to the demands of outside stakeholders. Since decisions about how the business is run and what products are carried are made by the member-owners, cooperatives are more responsive to community needs and desires. Because of this community ownership, cooperatives have proven to be one of the most resilient business models during economic downturns. All cooperatives follow the 7 Cooperative Principles. Co-ops are everywhere! You might already be a member of a co-op and not even realize it. Examples of co-ops include credit unions, REI, Organic Valley and Nationwide Insurance Company.

What’s the Difference Between a Food Co-op and a Grocery Store?

At first glance, food co-ops and grocery stores look a lot alike. With a few exceptions, the grocery stores in our community are national or regional chains. Those chains are profit driven and operating decisions are made far away from our community. Wild Root Market is owned and controlled by your friends and neighbors!

Key benefits of co-ops are:

Higher % of profits kept in our community
Clear and reliable labeling of products
Support for local, independent farmers and food producers
Concern for the environment
Fair wages for employees
Community engagement and education

Read more about the co-op difference....

Why Become An Owner?

People become Owners of co-ops for many different reasons, but high among them is because they believe in the mission of the business and the good it serves in the community. Co-ops are owned and democratically controlled by their Owners, and these Owners provide the capital to finance the co-op. By becoming an Owner today you are demonstrating your support for a full-service grocery store in Racine that will benefit the local economy and provide access to natural, organic and local food.

Examples of additional, more tangible benefits may include:

Owner sales specials
Case and bulk discounts
Co-op publications
Patronage rebates
Workshop discounts
Nutritional counseling

Owners also have a voice in the business.

They vote on key decisions as well as run for and vote for the Board of Directors.

Why Should I Join NOW?

The longer you wait to join, the longer it will take to open the store. Since Owners help fund start-ups costs, it’s important for people to join the co-op now, even before we have a finished store. We have begun capitalization in earnest and, because a substantial amount of our financing will come in the form of voluntary Owner loans, the greater number of Owners we have, the greater the pool of funds. The number of Owners is also important because it provides a demonstrable measure of the community support for a co-op in Racine to traditional (and non-traditional) lenders. It starts with YOU!

How Do I Become An Owner?

A full share in Wild Root Market is a one-time payment of $200. There is no annual fee. You may choose to pay the full share up front or you may pay in $50 quarterly installments. Register online or complete the Owner Subscription Form and mail it in with your payment. Ownership benefits will apply to everyone in the household with one person designated as the owner of record. The owner of record has the right to vote and serve on the Board.

Where Will Wild Root Market Be Located?

Wild Root Market has a contract in place for the building at 500 Walton Avenue - on the northwest corner of Walton and Wisconsin. The property is just west of the Racine Zoo and just north of the intersection at Goold and Main.

The location is strategically positioned to be a true neighborhood store and will bring a much-needed resource to this residential area.  We are confident this site provides the attributes required for a successful store.  It is right-sized, centrally located, and offers ample parking both at the site and across Walton in the lot at 2214 Wisconsin. 

We’re working with the local architectural firm, Butterfield, Rudie & Seitz, local builders Bukaceck Construction, as well as national co-op consulting firms CDS Consulting Co-op and Food Co-op Initiative to complete due diligence, inspections (including Phase I environmental and hazardous materials assessments), and store design. Budgets are in line with our market study sales projections on the site.

When Will Wild Root Market Be Open?

The opening date is dependent on raising the necessary capital as well as construction and renovation schedules. 

Really? I Feel As If This Is Taking Forever!

We know, we get it. We really, really do! It’s important to note that the typical food co-op takes 5-7 years to open a store. Some very successful co-ops have taken longer. One, River Valley Co-op in Massachusetts, almost 9 years! With the completion of our Founding Owner campaign in August 2011, experts have told us we are right on track with where we should be in the process.

Where Will The Money Come From To Open The Store?

Just like any start-up business, we will need financing to open the store. Ownership shares provide equity and voluntary Owner loans provide a large portion of our capitalization strategy. Owner loans offer a unique kind of investment opportunity for Owners, representing commitment and engagement in the co-op. Outside of Wild Root Market Owners, sources will include grants and loans available through government or private organizations, and commercial loans from lenders such as local banks and institutions that exist specifically to help start-up co-op businesses. 

What Items Will Wild Root Market Carry?

Wild Root Market intends to be a full-service grocery store.

Our vision for the store includes:

Fresh produce – organic and sourced locally whenever possible
Meat and dairy – organic and sourced locally whenever possible
Bakery and deli items
Packaged, canned, and frozen foods
Bulk foods such as grains, dry beans, nuts, and spices
Healthy prepared foods for dine-in or carry-out
Household and personal care products
Tea, coffee, beer and wine
Nutritional supplements

How Will You Choose Which Items To Carry?

The General Manager will establish product selection guidelines for our co-op that reflect the concerns of our Owners. All products in the store will meet the established guidelines which may include criteria such as natural, organic, local, humanely raised, sustainable, and fair-trade.

Will The Food Be More Expensive Compared To Other Grocery Stores?

We want everyone to be able to afford wholesome food, every day. Like many other food co-ops, Wild Root Market expects to provide a program that offers essential items at everyday low prices, discounted for all shoppers. We also expect to carry a wide selection of bulk items and saving money is one of the many benefits of shopping the bulk department, since you’re not paying for branding, packaging, and marketing costs. We will provide education on the best strategies for shopping and cooking on a budget. We’ll accept food assistance programs like SNAP. And finally, we believe that consumers should consider the entire cost of food, recognizing that “cheap” food might actually be “expensive” in terms of sustainability, nutrition and wellness.

Will Wild Root Market Accept Food Stamps?

Wild Root Market intends to accept SNAP benefits for the purchase of food.

Do Owners Have To Work Or Volunteer At The Store?

No, Owners do not need to work or volunteer in the store. The primary responsibility of Owners of the Wild Root Market is to shop there, to help drive the economic engine of our co-op! Owners should also exercise their voting privileges by voting for the Board of Directors and by expressing their preferences and values for the type of products we carry. There will be opportunities for Owners to volunteer in support of the mission of the Co-op.

How Is Wild Root Market Different Than Whole Foods Or Trader Joe's?

While Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s may offer many of the same products that Wild Root Market intends to carry, neither is conveniently located and, in the case of Trader Joes, often is not a “one stop shop” for many shoppers. Wild Root Market will be located right here in our community and will be a full-service store. We expect most shoppers to be able to get everything they need at the co-op. What really sets Wild Root Market apart though is our support of local food producers, local Ownership and a “not for excess profit” model. These differences mean more of the money spent at Wild Root Market remains in our local economy which, in turn, means more positive impact happens right here in our community.

What Happened With The Former Piggly Wiggly Site On Grove Avenue In West Racine?

The Board made an offer to purchase the Grove Avenue site in December of 2013. The contingent contract allowed six months for due diligence during which construction experts inspected and evaluated the site to identify needed renovations. During this time, a thorough financial feasibility analysis was conducted. Unfortunately, the acquisition and renovation costs were much higher than expected. The Board cancelled the offer to purchase in early June 2014. While the Board was disappointed, they recognize their fiduciary duty to make financial decisions that ensure the successful implementation of our mission – the sustainable operation of a full-service, cooperatively owned grocery store.

Am I Out The Money If The Project Is Not Feasible?

In short, the money that we have all contributed in the form of Ownership shares that has been spent is not refundable. It’s important to acknowledge, even though it is unlikely, unforeseen obstacles could deem the project unfeasible. If the project were deemed unfeasible, unspent monies would be returned to Owners in a proportionate manner, consistent with Wisconsin law. But, the beauty and strength of the cooperative model is that the financial risk is spread across Ownership at every stage of development.

How Will Wild Root Market Benefit The Community?

Wild Root Market intends to be an economic engine for lasting positive change in our community. Food co-ops exist to serve and benefit the communities where they are located. Wild Root Market will meet the growing community need for local, natural, and organic food that is raised sustainably and ethically. Wild Root Market will create good jobs and will offer living wages to a diverse, qualified workforce representative of the public it serves. Wild Root Market is committed to contributing to the vitality of our local economy by supporting local businesses, including local farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs. Food co-ops devote about 13% of income on average to charitable donations compared to about 4% for conventional grocers. 

How Will Wild Root Market Affect Our Local Farmers Markets?

Co-ops are, by design, not competitive entities. It is not our intention to compete with farmers markets, but rather to increase the availability of and demand for high quality, locally grown or produced goods. The farmers markets in the area are already an important part of that model. We regard Wild Root Market and our local farmers’ markets as partners in this goal.

Is Wild Root Market A Non-Profit Organization?

Wild Root Market is a for-profit, tax-paying cooperative business organized under Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 185. A cooperative is a user-owned, user-controlled business that distributes benefits on the basis of use. Members own the business and democratically elect the board of directors, which provides oversight of the co-op. Cooperatives are sometimes confused with non-profit organizations because co-ops, like non-profits, are mission driven with an emphasis on broader social, cultural, economic, and environmental values. 

How Do Local Farmers Get Their Products In Wild Root Market?

The General Manager will make purchasing decisions for  Wild Root Market. Once the store is open, vendors who would like their product to be considered for offer in Wild Root Market should contact the General Manager. At this time, potential vendors are welcome to send us an email indicating their interest.

What Can I Do To Help?

The most meaningful impact is through Ownership! Invest in your community and become an owner today!

If you’re already an Owner, THANK YOU! Are you participating in our Owner Investment Program?

Spread the Word! Personally ask your family, friends, colleagues and those within your other circles to join. A personal “ask” is sometimes all that’s needed. Let them know why you joined and why a fresh food, co-operatively owned grocery store is important to you and to Racine. We have the tools you need to spread the word about Wild Root Market! Get started today!

Wild Root Market Conversation Starters 

Wild Root Market Owner Guide 

Display your Wild Root Market pride with a yard sign! Email us at [email protected] or check the box on our Volunteer Interest Form to request one to be delivered straight to your yard!

Help us grow Wild Root Market! Volunteers are needed for projects, events and committee work. Run for the Board of Directors! Fill out a Volunteer Interest Form. We promise we’ll be in touch!

Buy an Ownership share as a gift. What better way to show your love or appreciation than by giving the gift of a pathway to improved health and a stronger, more sustainable local food system?

Encourage your employer to buy Ownership shares as employee recognition gifts for service, performance or other acknowledgement milestones.

Invite Wild Root Market to speak at a group function at your school, your community organization, your workplace, etc.

Offer to host a House Party. They’re easy! They’re fun! We provide great resources for hosting, planning and executing your event and we’re with you every step of the way!

Still have questions? Email us at [email protected]


Not yet an Owner? What are you waiting for?


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