At Wild Onion Market, a sense of community that goes beyond neighborhood lines is set to lead the way, President Jillian Jason says, as the co-op moves forward with building plans.
While the location of the co-op can’t be announced yet, Jason said it will be in one of the three areas: the West Ridge or Rogers Park neighborhoods of Chicago or in south Evanston.
The specific site was identified a couple of weeks ago and Jason said the co-op will be signing the lease shortly. Next up is a capital fundraising campaign expected to raise more than a million dollars to help get the co-op open and sustainable for years to come.
“We want to do this right and be successful,” Jason said. “The pressure to get our doors open is there, but it is all about doing it correctly. Folks have been with this project for a long time and put hundreds of thousands of hours into the business.”
Currently Wild Onion Market has 1,060 owners. Each owner buys 2.5 shares for $250, Jason said. The organization chart is like an inverted pyramid: Although there is a board of directors on which Jason serves, she said the owners lead the way and will help Wild Onion Market open its doors.
“One of our biggest areas of ownership are local businesses,” Jason said. “Independent businesses in Evanston have come out and joined the co-op, so we will have a hub for sharing resources and customers.”
The goal of the co-op, Jason said, is to create “real access” to organic and local goods that are within the average price range for shoppers. Instead of making stops at multiple businesses in Evanston for items such as your favorite handmade soap, a local butcher or freshly made scones, everything will be in one place at Wild Onion Market, showcasing the small businesses of Evanstonians at an affordable price.
“It won’t be just organic items but real access to the products folks want in the neighborhood,” Jason said. “We are sensitive to the price barriers for folks. Specialty shops can be expensive, and we know the perception doesn’t always meet reality. Building a store that has access to sustainable and organic food is super important to us.”
Wild Onion Market is also working with Citizens’ Greener Evanston to develop the sustainability factor of the co-op in elements such as compost programs, to-go items and refill programs.