WisBusiness: Modern MoCo Market coming to historic Williamson Street

By Ryann Petit-Frere

MADISON — When Megan Ramey steps into her empty storefront “box” of drywall and wood-planked floors, she sees more than what meets the eye. She sees the newest haven for urbanites in the Williamson Street neighborhood.

Built around the old Schlitz Beer distribution building and tucked under the City Ridge Condominiums at 804 Williamson St., MoCo Market plans to meet the needs of modern, community oriented, shoppers-on-the-go.

Among the many specialty stores, co-ops and health foods stores in Madison, MoCo – short for Modern Convenience – aims to make its mark by not only offering groceries, hot food, and wine but also lifestyle goods such as music, magazines, technology information, and internet access. With that mix, Ramey envisions a store of community members browsing her travel section and petting their dogs as they enjoy a meal on the store’s deck and sipping a new wine.

“My mission is to equip and emphasize the life of the urbanite,” Ramey said.

The urbanite, defined by Ramey as a young professional who enjoys music, good food and downtown living, is a growing demographic in the Williamson Street area. New residential dwellings such as the City Ridge and Livingston Condominiums are contributors to changing the face of the neighborhood.

Some development has met with opposition. James Westring, president of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, believes in preserving the novel character of the area.

“(The Williamson Street area is) an eclectic business hub and has been for years. Altering it in a non-sensitive way takes away the neighborhood’s uniqueness,” Westring said.

Ramey plans to be innovative, but not insensitive. The importance of innovation, even in grocery retail, is well understood by this UW-Madison Business School student. As an advocate for an eco-friendly future, Ramey plans to be the first retail store in Madison to have Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

LEED certification is a nationally recognized green building rating system. To meet the requirements for the certification an applicant must earn at least 29 points. For example, MoCo Market can earn points through installation of energy efficient lighting, having a bike rack and building in a shower for employees’ use.

Ramey plans for MoCo Market to be a unique asset to the community, stressing a blend of modern urban living and historic charm. MoCo Market’s website, www.mocomarket.com, will launch in January 2007 and the store is scheduled to open in May 2007.

Petit-Frere is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.