RACINE — Shoppers looking for something new are cheering the transformation of a former grocery store into a village of mini-storefronts selling housewares, clothing and artwork.
The Midwest Market @ 2210 celebrated its grand opening this weekend with more than 30 entrepreneurs, many selling their products in brick-and-mortar locations for the first time.
Shoppers applauded the unique indoor presentation of pint-sized shops arranged side by side inside the 70,000-square-foot former grocery store at 2210 Rapids Drive.
Each shop owner rents their own space — some as little as 200 square feet — and each has the opportunity to decorate their walls and storefront entrances in their taste and style.
“I love this,” shopper Gail Schultz of Racine said Saturday while she and her husband, Steve, explored the new market.
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Schultz said she was most impressed at how the individual merchants all have walls to claim their own place, and all have taken time to make their stores look different and creative.
“It’s their pride and joy,” she said. “It’s very fun.”
The Midwest Market has attracted store owners selling a diverse mix of goods, from toys and flowers to furniture and perfume. Organizers are still recruiting more tenants, and say they have room for up to 100 businesses in an ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurial ideas.
There are also food vendors and a full-service cocktail bar.
The grand opening continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and the market is scheduled to open year-round from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
The onetime Pick ‘n Save grocery store on Rapids Drive — across the street from Horlick High School — closed its doors as a food-shopping destination in 2015.
It is part of the Rapids Plaza shopping center, which opened in 1963 but has struggled to attract and retain tenants in recent years.
Businessman Bob Gleason bought Rapids Plaza in 2020 and converted the old Pick ‘n Save into a farmers market. Gleason then decided to drop the farmers market and instead create the Midwest Market as a permanent year-round shopping village.
Stores operate alongside one another, but each with walls and separate entrances creating the environment of a downtown business district — all under one roof.
Tenants pay just $1 per square foot per month, or $200 a month for a 200-square-foot store. The concept is attractive to business owners unable or unwilling to pay steeper rents in more high-profile locations like Downtown Racine.
“It’s kind of like everything I was looking for,” said Dyan Tishuk, owner of Design Metro, a shop offering artwork, gifts and homemade fudge.
For the grand opening Saturday, shoppers flocked to the market and enjoyed the indoor attraction, especially on a weekend when the Racine area was hit by unseasonable cold and snow.
Roxanne Pouros of Oak Creek said she was happy to get out of the inclement weather. She also was surprised to find such an eclectic and colorful collection of shops.
“It’s more than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “Everybody has their own personality.”
Shopper Alexa Anderson of Franksville called the market a positive use of a former grocery store that otherwise might be sitting vacant.
“I think the concept is really clever,” she said.
Market manager Gail Deno said she expects more tenants to join the village soon. As words get out, other would-be entrepreneurs are snatching up space.
“My phone’s been ringing non-stop,” Deno said.
She added: “Racine needed something like this. What a cool way to spend a couple of hours.”
Photos: Shoppers check out Racine’s new indoor village of mini-storefronts