Whitewater Grocery Co. delivers special opportunity for local community

Myles Luckett, Journalist

The people of Whitewater will soon have the opportunity to join something special that has never been seen before in this area.   

The Whitewater Grocery Co. will be a community-owned grocery provider with different and healthier food choices previously unavailable to the Whitewater community. The goal of the store is to get 1,000 community owners by opening day, and of course ownership comes with benefits.

“Our grocery store will have products that can be recognized by people as stuff that they always get, but we will have healthier organic options that you may not see at your typical grocery store,” says Brienne Diebolt-Brown, board director.

The Whitewater Grocery Co. is making a splash after the city’s grocery store, Sentry, which shut down in 2015, left Walmart and a few small shops downtown as the only viable food options. After doing research, the board of directors came to the conclusion that when a town such as Whitewater loses a grocery store, it can take up to 15 years to get another one. This is in part because of the Whitewater economy and how the people of Whitewater typically have lower incomes.

“Grocery stores leave those areas because they’re like ‘you’re too poor we can’t make money off you,’ so after research we realized we wouldn’t get another grocery store unless we do something about this. We talked to the city and they gave up $10,000 since we believed so much in the co-op idea,” states Brienne Diebolt-Brown.

That was the beginning of a two-year process that is still ongoing. The process included going to conferences run by co-ops on how to do business correctly, especially in a poor community, and ways to stay in business. Although the Whitewater Grocery Co. will pose a serious threat, some of the competition is not worried.

“I believe that the brand in Walmart will not be affected by the opening of a new grocery store just because of how recognizable our store is. If a person ever had a split decision on which store to go to, I believe they would choose the one that they know most about rather than risking being disappointed,” argues Quintarius Rome, Walmart associate.

Even though people generally go with what they know, Walmart and other competitors shouldn’t be so sure that the name of their company alone can keep customers. In today’s age, people are more health conscious and in Whitewater there aren’t many places that help and allow you to eat clean.

“Since living in Whitewater, I have gained at least 20 pounds. Some of it had to do with my bad eating habits, but it really comes from not knowing how to shop for healthy food or even really cook it. It’s just easier to get fast food or frozen pizza to fill up,” says Anthony LaPoint, Whitewater resident.

That is where the Whitewater Grocery Co. will come in handy. Not only will they stock organic options, there is word that they will have fresh clean food available which wouldn’t require cooking at the front of the store for people who can’t cook like they’d like to.