ROGERS PARK — Wild Onion Market is moving forward with a co-op in a former grocery store building in Rogers Park after more than eight years of organizing.
Wild Onion Market, the Rogers Park-based co-op group, signed a 10-year lease for the building at 7007 N. Clark St., the co-op board announced over the weekend. Construction is set to begin this spring with an opening planned for late 2022 or early 2023.
Wild Onion began looking for a store in 2020 after it secured 500 co-op members. Recently, the group brought on its 1,000th member, making this the right time to move forward with the store opening, said Jillian Jason, president of Wild Onion’s board.
The board looked at dozens of locations for a store but settled on the Clark Street strip mall storefront that previously housed Express Market Place. The grocery store opened in 2018 but didn’t make it more than a few years.
The building still has grocery store infrastructure that will make a build-out quicker and more affordable — about a $1.8 project compared to $4 million to start from scratch.
The location is geographically centered for its members, who hail from Edgewater, West Ridge, Evanston and Rogers Park, Jason said. Unlike many local storefronts, it also comes with a parking lot.
“So much [of the building] is reusable,” she said. “People got really excited about that.”
Wild Onion Market will stock traditional grocery store items as well as prepared foods and an organic section. The market is working toward stocking at least 25 percent local produce. Products from local businesses will also be prominently featured in the store, as about 10 percent of Wild Onion’s members are other independent businesses, Jason said.
“We’re super excited people bought in,” she said. “We want to give more access to these businesses and help tie it [the store] to the community.”
The store will have a cafe and small seating space, because a community space was the most requested feature of the store among community members.
The storefront is about 6,000 square feet, though some of the space will be for storage and not for retail.
A capital campaign to fund the store build-out will take place March 6-May 22. It will seek to raise $1 million.
Wild Onion is also accepting members, with a lifetime share costing $250. To help make ownership more accessible, scholarships of up to $150 toward a lifetime share are being offered. To learn more about becoming a member, click here.
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. In 2020, the Rogers Park Food Co-Op Group announced it would rebrand to Wild Onion Market. That’s a reference to the Native American word for the area’s native onion plant, from which the word “Chicago” is derived.
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