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Wausau Daily Herald
July 8, 2006
Section: Front Page
Page: 1A

Grocery aims to satisfy home-grown demand

By Amy Olson
Wausau Daily Herald aolson@wdhprint.com

The grand opening of Wausau's Downtown Grocery.com is expected in the next week or two, bringing a much-anticipated amenity with a home-grown touch to the heart of Wausau.

Owners Kevin Korpela and Blaine Tornow say they plan to host events, including tours of the store, to explain the importance of organic food and growing food locally.

Among the produce the store sells are a variety of vegetables raised by Tornow's Moonshadow Farm, an 80-acre farm in the Town of Berlin that has been certified to raise organic crops for 10 seasons.

Although organic food makes up about 2.5 percent of the total food market, demand has increased by 30 percent to 35 percent a year in the past five years, Tornow said.

"Demand is so high the supply can't keep up," Tornow said.

The owners want to keep their prices reasonable, while supporting local farmers by giving them a place to sell their produce, Korpela said.

After working to develop the concept and find and renovate the building, Korpela said they are excited to be opening. They spent four months renovating the space, removing the suspended ceiling and layers of carpet and linoleum to reveal the store's tin ceiling and maple floors. Combined with the white pine shelves made from trees from Moonshadow Farm and the earth-tone paint on the walls, they attempted to create an environment that matches their philosophy, Korpela said.

For now, staff members are stocking shelves and learning the ropes, while the first customers began making purchases Wednesday.

Josh Vander Hey, a catcher for the Wisconsin Woodchucks baseball team, stopped by the shop Friday afternoon after leaving the YMCA and said he was craving fruit.

"All we've been eating is pizza," he said, referring to himself and his teammates.

Deliberations, the store's deli, sells homemade soups, pizzas, wraps and other items.

Co-manager Chris Mosse, who runs the deli, said she's continuing to test recipes.

"Everyone seems to like the zucchini soup," Mosse said.

The owners hope the deli will be a draw for noon-time customers looking for a quick, healthy bite to eat, but it also will enable the store to make use of produce, such as slightly bruised tomatoes, that might otherwise go to waste, Mosse said.

"We've had such a great reception from everyone," Tornow said.

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Kevin Korpela, www.observatorydrive.com