APPLETON – It’s a vote of approval from a grocer and deli owner for a downtown Appleton development. Green Gecko Grocer & Deli is expanding to a second downtown location.
The plan is to open a second 2,000-square-foot store at Richmond and Packard Streets in the downtown's near west side.
In the four years Green Gecko has called Appleton's City Center Plaza home, Bob Wall's done a lot with a little space – less than 500-square-feet of it.
"We're ready to grow," said Green Gecko’s owner Bob Wall. "Richmond Terrace, we watched it starting to fill up and when we started to think about scaling, it was pretty much a logical choice for us."
To offer more locally sourced fresh produce, dairy, fresh meat & cheese, seafood, frozen items, as well as the prepared food and beer and wine.
But don’t worry, the group’s City Center Plaza location isn’t closing anytime soon.
”We’re going to operate both stores,” said Wall. “They have different market drivers, different customer bases – there will be a little bit of overlap, but that will be overcome by efficiencies that we have in running the two places.”
“We don’t have many options,” said Heather Hanson as she walked past the Richmond Terrace property Tuesday, “That’s why I’m trekking all this way.”
Hanson, a piano teacher at nearby Heid Music, says the new store would be a great addition.
"I can just walk down here, get (groceries or food) and go back to work. Or afterward, I can stop by on my way home as well."
The city's community development director Karen Harkness says it's not just Green Gecko's decision to open a second store, that speaks to the opportunity for growth in the Richmond Terrace building and area.
”Just in the last few months we’ve seen Insight Magazine, Red Shoes PR, a pet store, nutritional store, all go in to there,” said Harkness.
The building's owner says two-thirds of the 30,000-square-foot of commercial space has been leased out in the past year. And all 147 of the condo units are now sold.
A rosy picture, compared to even a couple years ago. Since the development’s construction in 2004 – that included city help – it’s gone through some trials and tribulations, including a bankruptcy and new owners.
But Wall says he sees an opportunity and is going to take it.
”It’s important for us that this is not just a place for people who have greater means in the downtown,” said Wall. “Everybody will be welcome. In addition to the fine quality foods, I will have foods that everybody needs every day.”
Wall says the plan is to have the new grocery store open to the public by mid-October.