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Charlie’s County Market   
Leader photo by Nathan Falk
City officials and project leaders join Charlie and Debbie Harvey, third and fourth from right, for a groundbreaking ceremony for their new grocery store at 521 S. Main St. in Shawano Friday. They currently operate Shawano Country Store. The new store, ‘Charlie’s County Market,’ is slated to open in May 2011.

A lot more ‘store’ in store
 
By Tim Ryan
Shawano Leader Reporter
Saturday, September 25, 2010

    After two years of anticipation,it’s finally underway.
    Ground was broken Friday on what will be called Charlie’s County Market, a 44,000 square foot grocery store in downtown Shawano that will replace the much smaller Country Store just up the street.
    “This has been a long and challenging journey,” said Country Store owner Charlie Harvey. “We experienced some very difficult negotiations, some stumbling blocks and setbacks. But in the end everything has come together.”
    The store was announced in October of 2008 and has been eagerly awaited since then.
    “Our customers have been excited since we brought this up two years ago,” Harvey said. “This store has been on people’s minds since we announced it.”
    Harvey said he appreciated their support during the process.
    “I’m very thankful for everyone’s patience,” he said.
    Harvey thanked the community not only for its patience, but its part in making the new store a reality.
    “The entire community has made this possible,” Harvey said as he thanked a long list of participants including city staff and officials, Hilgenberg Realty, Shawano County Economic Progress, Inc., food supplier SuperValu and the new store’s pending neighbor Luigi’s Pasta and Pizza.
    Harvey had wanted to call the new store Shawano County Market — intended to suggest its draw to wider customer base outside the city — but there was some concern about the name.
    “I thought, ‘oh no, not another government deal,’” said Realtor Terry Hilgenberg, who has been heavily involved in the project.
    Hilgenberg said an informal survey was done and the name Charlie’s County Market was chosen.
 
02_220.jpg
Leader photo by Tim Ryan
Charlie Harvey thanked the many people involved in the new store project Friday.
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    Harvey said he was reluctant about including his name, but he eventually agreed.
    “Charlie Harvey had a dream for this community and for his customers,” said Mayor Lorna Marquardt. “On behalf of the City of Shawano and its residents, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Charlie for fulfilling that vision right here in downtown Shawano.”
    Marquardt said the new store would bring people into the community, increase the city’s tax base, preserve jobs for existing employees and create jobs for others.
    Harvey said it’s hoped the new store at 521 S. Main Street will be open for business in May.
    Bayland Builders is the contractor on the project.
    “We’re hoping to welcome you into our new County Market by Memorial Day,” Harvey said, “and we look forward to providing Shawano and the surrounding communities with outstanding products, reasonable prices and the excellent service you deserve.”
    Other speakers at Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony included Eric Schwartz of Sara Investment Real Estate, which is financing the $7 million project.
    “Trying to finance a project like this in this environment is challenging,” Schwartz said. “As you know credit markets are difficult.”

 
      Schwartz said investors mostly wanted to know about Harvey.
    “I described him as the last American cowboy in a John Wayne movie, riding the range in the grocery business,” Schwartz said.
    Harvey was going to school with plans to be a teacher when he happened into the grocery business in 1970, working part-time at the Red Owl in Tigerton.
    He worked his way up to a management position and later became manager of four stores. In 1999, he became owner of Country Store.
    In 2006, Harvey was named the Wisconsin Grocers Association’s Operator of the Year.
    Years ago, Harvey and his wife Debbie bought a cottage in Shawano and eventually they moved here.
    “We like the location, we like the people, we like the town,” Harvey said. “It’s just a great place.”
    Harvey has been dreaming of a new and bigger store in Shawano for about 10 years. Initially he considered expanding the existing store.
    “But that wouldn’t do us much good because we couldn’t add on to the parking lot,” he said.
    Ultimately, Harvey decided a brand new store was needed.
    “We can’t take care of our customers the way we want to,” he said.
    The new store will have its own bakery, liquor department, a deli more than twice what the existing store has, a cake decorating station, and a much wider variety of dairy and frozen products.
    “And, of course, room to move,” Harvey said.
    The new location will require closing off Richmond Street between Main and Washington streets, which will become part of the new store’s parking lot. The Shawano Common Council approved vacating the street in December 2008.
    The city is also taking advantage of the project to make some infrastructure improvements to Main Street.

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More store ahead

A rendering presented to the Shawano Common Council Wednesday shows one possible design for a new and expanded Country Store Foods on South Main Street. Though not necessarily the final design, it was offered to give city officials an idea of what the proposed 43,000 square foot building might look like. Below is a site plan for the project.
Country Store plans move to new building
 
By Tim Ryan
Shawano Leader Reporter
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Plans were unveiled Wednesday for a new and larger Country Store Foods in downtown Shawano.
    Country Store owner Charlie Harvey, store supplier Supervalu, Inc. and Realtor Terry Hilgenberg presented the plans at a special meeting of the Common Council Wednesday.
    “This will be a destination retail location,” Hilgenberg said, noting it would add jobs and spur additional downtown development.
    “This is an exciting, realistic and reasonable project that can really take
care of our customers,” said Jeff McClure, area marketing director for Supervalu.
    “We think we can open a new store within one year,” he said.


HARVEY
 

    Harvey said the new store would continue to feature what area customers have come to expect from the store, especially local brands, which he hopes to expand.     “Never will you see that go,” Harvey said.
    McClure stressed that Supervalu’s role in the project was only as support for Harvey.
    “We’re not the outside company coming in,” he said. “It’s their business and we work for them.”
    McClure said Harvey even chose the location after insisting the store be kept in the downtown area. A market analyst brought into consider a location ultimately agreed with Harvey’s choice, McClure said.
    The 43,000 square foot grocerystore - more than double the existing store - would be located just a little south of the existing facility on property currently home to Retail Lumber at 111 W. Richmond Street.
    Retail Lumber is moving to a new location in Wescott, Hilgenberg said.
    The new location would require closing off Richmond Street between Main and Washington streets, which would become part of the new store’s parking lot.
    Though the discontinuation of that street was on the agenda of the Shawano Common Council
  Wednesday night, the council was not able to take action on it.
    The matter has to go to the Plan Commission first with a public hearing.
    Property owners in the neighborhood would have to be notified, so the soonest it could go before the Plan Commission would be the commission’s December meeting.
    McClure said the new building itself - without any of the amenities inside - would cost about $7.5 million.


Jeff McClure, area marketing director for the regional office of Supervalu, Inc., presents preliminary site plans and renderings of a proposed new Country Store Foods on South Main Street. Supervalu, which is Country Store’s supplier, is assisting store owner Charlie Harvey with the proposed project.

    He also said the project was unique in at least one respect.
    “This is one of only four or five times we have ever come to a city with a downtown project,” he said, explaining most new stores of this size were located near freeways or new subdivision developments on the outskirts of communities.
    The project has been in the works for more than two years, McClure said.
    McClure said the current store - at 413 South Main St. - is limited by its 20,000 square foot space, insufficient parking and traffic problems for trucks making deliveries.
      The new store, he said, “will be up to date with today’s grocery store standards.”
    All of the service areas - including meat, produce and bakery - would be expanded, and the store would feature “a full deli lineup” rather than what is now basically only “a delicase.”
    The store would also have a walk-in “beer cave” featuring what Harvey said would be “probably any beer that’s in the market.”
    As for the current Country Store site, there are currently no plans for its future use, Hilgenberg said, but there is a lot of potential.
    Hilgenberg said the development of the new Country Store would likely enhance the development potential of the old property.
    “This will have a positive impact,” he said.