Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rising from the Ashes: City, state leaders celebrate Downtown Grocery's return to Wausau location nearly two years after fireSubmitted: 08/22/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Rising from the Ashes: City, state leaders celebrate Downtown Grocery's return to Wausau location nearly two years after fire
WAUSAU - You'd never guess it seeing the rows of stocked shelves and fresh paint, but Kevin Korpela's Downtown Grocery store in Wausau once stood as four fire-damaged walls with no roof.

"We had a home to go to, it just wasn't ready yet," Korpela said.

Tuesday morning, Korpela and his wife, Megan Curtes Korpela, showed Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch around their new digs in its old location nearly two years after fire destroyed the grocery on North Third Street.  A teenager tossed a lit cigarette in a dumpster behind the building in September 2015, severely damaging the building, which also housed Evolve Fitness and Sweets on Third.

"What a phoenix, truly rising from the ashes," Kleefisch said of the store.

Kleefisch was on hand to celebrate Downtown Grocery's rebirth as part of the statewide "Main Street Day" tour. The Lieutenant Governor's day included stops in Port Washington, La Crosse, and Ashland.

"Main streets across our state are vibrant, are incredibly important economic contributors," Kleefisch said.

Wausau joined the 30-year-old "Wisconsin Main Street" program in 2002. It offers technical support and training to help revitalize downtown, spawning nearly 14,000 jobs since 1987.

"We're looking for long-term commitments from job creators who are eager to succeed not just over five years, and not just over 10 years, but a lifetime of success," Kleefisch said.

The Main Street program's guidance helped bring back downtown grocery, offering tips, suggestions, and guidance throughout the rebuild process.

"We look up to our fellow businesses [downtown] I'm sure just as much as they might look up to us," Curtes Korpela said.

Korpela and his wife temporarily moved the store into the nearby Wausau Center Mall in early 2016, using the building as a life raft while they decided if they wanted to rebuild.

"Number one is to stay positive, not knowing quite how it's going to turn out, but then stage two is realizing that it might take longer than we think," Korpela said.

The city of Wausau offered gap financing when it learned downtown grocery hoped to move back into its original building. Planning, Community, and Economic Development Director Chris Schock says the city took some flack for spending money on a business that might not survive.

"It's really our vocation to help businesses step forward," Schock said. "It's a role that every city plays. We're really proud to play that role."

Later this month, Downtown Grocery will reopen with 15 employees, a little shy of its old total of 21 before the fire. But the store's return also brings in new organic and natural food distributors, like Scott Dixon, who says Downtown Grocery fills a void created since the fire.

"To see that the city's so behind it and it's really vibrant and the store just fits in perfectly with it... They're going to come back better than ever," Dixon said.

Now at 1,100 square feet larger than before, Downtown Grocery expects to be a "Main Street" anchor in Wausau for years to come.

"It is one big team working individually--but yet together--to create an experiential environment that is local and unique," Korpela said.

Korpela tells Newswatch 12 he and his wife hope to reopen the store before the end of August. They expect to soon surpass the 21 original employees.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

MINOCQUA -
Starting a new health routine can be intimidating, but easing into the process can do the trick.

Just as balance is key in yoga, it is important to have in your lifestyle, too.

That's a mindset that Laurel Parins lives by.

"Whether that is a twenty minute walk, a class here at the studio… that will make you happier when you're not restricting yourself," says Parins.

She opened Roots Health Studio in Minocqua at the end of May after working in the fitness and nutrition field in Green Bay for some years.

"I really wanted to bring my knowledge of healthy lifestyle-living back to the community I grew up in."

Laurel gets that a new "health journey" can be intimidating, but she says you can't go wrong.

"Once you try it, you'll never regret it."

Laurel offers yoga and barre classes, personal training, and nutrition services at Roots.

For more info, click the link below.


+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bill that would allow all of Wisconsin to watch the Green Bay Packers.

Currently a dozen counties in northwestern Wisconsin are relegated to watching Minnesota Viking games whenever they play at the same time as the Packers. Florence County is in the Marquette, Michigan, market and must watch the Detroit Lions whenever they play at the same time as the Packers.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Bandages, blood, and stress balls filled the National Guard Amory in Rhinelander Wednesday.

Crews set up shop for the annual MASH Blood Drive.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - The roads in Minocqua got a little bit safer thanks to the generosity of a local business.

The Minocqua Police Department's speed board was falling apart and in desperate need of repairs.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Charlotte Strehlow might be the last living member of her childhood family. 

"My folks are gone, my brothers are gone, sisters, I'm the one left," said Strehlow. 

But she's taken their lessons and used them to live a very long life. 

"I had very good parents, my father was a pastor," said Strehlow. 

Strehlow says the life her parents showed her how to live helped her to reach her 110th birthday. 

"We've had a countdown for a while now, she was so excited about it," said personal care worker Emily Winchell.

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - People using FoodShare at Marathon County farmers markets won't be affected by a software change. 

Novo Dia Group announced it will end its service that processes SNAP benefits at farmers markets at the end of July. 

+ Read More
Rollover on Highway 17Submitted: 07/18/2018

Play Video

HIGWAY 17 - A driver walked away mostly uninjured from a one-car rollover north of Rhinelander this morning.

The accident happened on Highway 17 around 9:45 a.m. 

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here