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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/14/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


Citizens all over Wisconsin are going to the polls today to exercise their right to vote in the primary elections. We'll take you live to local polling places to see how the turnout has been for the elections and tell you why some ballots may not go into the machine the first time.

Today's elections involve several local and state races in Wisconsin. We'll bring you a preview of the races on Newswatch 12 at 5 and 6, and we'll give you the latest totals on Newswatch 12 at 10.

And we talk to employees at a Lac du Flambeau construction company and tell you why businesses in that area are hiring people both inside and outside of the reservation.


We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Everything from construction to the local call center want to bring in more employees, even outside of the reservation.

"[Work] has been picking up in the past couple of years and so we're swamped now," said LDF Construction site foreman William Krause.

LDF Construction is part of the tribe's Business Development Corporation. The BDC was created to maintain sustainable jobs throughout the community in 2012.

"The Lac du Flambeau area is definitely growing [in business]," said Krause.

Even though the area is growing, Krause said nearly every business involved with the BDC needs more workers.

LDF Holdings employee Tiffany Boman lends money to customers. She thinks people might not be applying to Lac du Flambeau businesses because they think the reservation is only open to native workers.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Hundreds of people lined up to get groceries today, but not a single person had to pay a dime.

The Feeding America food truck was parked at Sara Park in Tomahawk Tuesday.

Anyone, no matter their income or living situation, could fill a shopping cart full of groceries to take home.

This is the 5th year Darlene Laabs and the Northwoods Vineyard Church raised money to bring the food truck to the Northwoods.

Laabs started this in honor of her late husband who always worried about children being hungry.

"I feel really blessed that I am able to do this," said Laabs. "We are doing this all for the glory of God and I am doing it in his memory. I know that he's looking down and is well pleased with the project."

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee police have shot and killed a 48-year-old man on the city's south side.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales says officers were following up Monday afternoon on a suspect who fled from them earlier in the day. Officers conducted a traffic stop, and Morales says the Milwaukee man got out of the vehicle with a gun.

+ Read More

SUPERIOR - A jury has found two people guilty of disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer following a protest at Enbridge Energy's Line 3 construction site in Wisconsin last summer.


Wisconsin Public Radio reports that 24-year-old Alexander Emery Good-Cane-Milk of South Dakota and 26-year-old Kyla L. Hassig of Minnesota were also found guilty of trespassing on the site where Enbridge was working to replace a 12.5-mile (20-kilometer) segment of its 1960s-era oil pipeline in Wisconsin.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Eleven people left the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest supervisor's office in Rhinelander Monday afternoon to fight wildfires in Oregon.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - You'll find a sea of blue paddling, propelling, and pulling its way across Lake Minocqua on Saturday mornings.

Joanie Morgan is a part of the Island City Dragon Boat Club. "Once I got in [to dragon boat racing], it's so addicting," said Morgan. "It's fun to be out here with the whole team."

That whole team is made up of 35 women, of all ages and all sizes.

"It's all about women putting 100 percent effort in. [I like] seeing 20 people in a boat just giving 100 percent and seeing what we can do," said team captain Dalia Clausen.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here