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

EAGLE RIVER - Eight women started a quilting legacy more than 20 years ago. The Cranberry Country Quilt Show comes to Eagle River every two years. However, itswhat the show does all year round that sets it apart.

The Quilting Guild is a nonprofit organization that makes quilts to give to those in need in the department on aging and local women shelters.

"I'd like to find more resources of people that need quilts. For the homeless shelter we make bags with shampoos and soaps and we make as many as we can and they give them to people that need them," said Cranberry Country Quilt Show Chairman Wendy Ahnen. 

Cindy Eggers is an award winning quilter and one of the original members of the guild.This year she was the honoree quilter. She's proud of the impact her quilts make.

"It's wonderful because people respond back with thank you notes for like a baby quilt or maybe their home has been burned. We have a quilt that we can give them when they've lost everything. It's rewarding very rewarding," said Eggers. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Minocqua hosted not one, but three different races Saturday. Each run was all a part of the Bear Cupboard Run.

People could participate in a half marathon or 5K. For the younger runners, there was a cubby run. All in all about 500 people participated. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - The Gem and Mineral show celebrated its 50th year in Minocqua this weekend. While all the vendors there are passionate about their product, one in particular seems to hold his in high regard.

"Basically it's what I thrive on," said Bill Schoenfuss.

Bill Schoenfuss is passionate about his business.

+ Read More

THREE LAKES -  Three people turned tragic accidents into an opportunity to change lives.

"There's always a way to get over any obstacle you think you can't get around," said 27-year-old Anthony Regole. 

Regole found his way around one of the biggest obstacles of his life when he was 16.

"I was in a car accident and that's how I became a T-11 complete paraplegic," said Regole.

However, instead of feeling defeated he found new strength. Now, he and wants to share a piece of his strength with others. Regole started the SpineCore Foundation this year to give people with physical disabilities like 45 year old Pete LaPage a chance to do adaptive outdoors sports with a specialized camp.

"I don't like to be inside I need to be outside!" said LaPage.

24 years ago LaPage dropped off a 20 ft. embankment and broke his back during a three wheeler accident.

"Everyday there's a challenge you find a way to overcome make it a little adventure," said LaPage.
 
Breanna Kinneman started dealing with new challenges just a year ago when she had to have both legs amputated after a car crash. However, being around LePage and Regole showed her there's no reason to slow down.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Local lawn care services hope the rain we saw Friday will give them more business.

We've had 41 days of hot, humid weather this summer. That's more than double than last year.

Those temperatures are taking a toll on our yards.

Owner of "Brian's Fairway Look" Brian Perschon feels right at home behind a lawn mower.

"I just love cutting grass. I love doing it. It's not really work for me," said Perschon.

Perschon noticed the once glossy, green grass is now dry and yellow
Perschon uses fertilizer on the lawns he mows to avoid having to deal with dull grass.

"If you take care of it, it'll take care of you," said Perschon.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERCER - Two Mercer School Board members, Karl Anderson and Christa Reinert, are facing backlash for questioning finances of the district and the behavior of some of its leaders. 

"I get [an] upset stomach thinking about the things that are going on," said Anderson.

Anderson was elected to the five-person board this spring. He ran to support fellow school board member Christa Reinert and to try to correct some of the wrongs he saw happening in the district. 

"Some of the facts that have been coming out seem to be waking people up," said Anderson.

Those facts are misuse of taxpayer money, improper raises, and intimidation techniques, which were observed during this interview when a man in a car drove by yelling profanities.

+ Read More

DES MOINES - Forecasters say at least five tornadoes touched down as an unexpected swarm of destructive storms hit central Iowa.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson said Friday that it will take days to determine the strength and total number of the twisters that hit three town on Thursday afternoon.

The storms injured at least 17 people , flattened buildings and forced the evacuation of a hospital.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here