ROGERS PARK — After more than seven years of planning, recruiting and fundraising, the new Rogers Park co-op is taking some of its most concrete steps yet: announcing a new name and a search for a storefront.
The Far North Side’s newest co-op will be called Wild Onion Market, members of the Rogers Park Food Co-op group announced. The group has also hired a real estate agent to help scout for locations for the locally owned, sustainably sourced grocery store.
The rebranding and efforts to find a physical location are some of the most promising steps yet taken in the long journey to bring a co-op to the Far North Side, said Jillian Jason, board president of the co-op group.
“The pieces are finally coming into place,” Jason said. “It’s a great moment for the co-op. We’re really excited.”
After securing over 500 owner/members, the group decided to move forward with its plans. And since the owners are not confined to Rogers Park, the group thought a rebranding would be helpful.
Wild Onion Market is a reference to the Native American word for the area’s native onion plant, from which the word “Chicago” is derived. Since co-op members hail from Edgewater, West Ridge, Evanston and Rogers Park, the group thought the name should be less neighborhood specific, Jason said.
“We want to be more inclusive geographically, and have a name that stands out more and is more exciting,” she said.
The rebranding was announced at a co-op board meeting Tuesday. Molly Costello, a Rogers Park-based artist, will design a new logo and branding materials, the group announced.
The search for a location will also expand beyond Rogers Park, Jason said. A location near the geographic center of Rogers Park, West Ridge and Evanston would be preferred, but other factors like cost will also have to be considered, she said.
“We want a place that will benefit the most amount of our owners,” Jason said.
After seven years of hard work, the co-op project is now gaining steam. There is still plenty of work to be done, however.
A capital fundraising campaign will be launched this year, along with the real estate search. The group is still seeking to sign up 750 members, but announcements about a new location will likely help the group secure that number, Jason said.
“As soon as you sign a site, you get a lot more owners,” she said. “It helps people visualize [the store] and find their place in the project.”
A timeline for Wild Onion Market’s opening is dependent on the capital fundraising effort and what kind of site is selected. New construction would take considerably longer than building out an existing site, Jason said.
Plans for a Rogers Park-area co-op began in 2012 when a group of 30 neighbors met to discuss bringing a community-owned grocery store to the area. Mary Meyer, the board’s vice president, helped set up the initial meeting to get the co-op moving forward. Meyer said she is pleased with how the neighborhood has rallied to the project.
“We’re at a very exciting stage,” said Meyer.
For more information on the co-op, including on how to become a member, check out the Rogers Park Food Co-Op website by clicking here.
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