BAY VIEW, Wis. — Years ago, people bought most of their food from small neighborhood grocery stores. As big grocery chains emerged, many neighborhood markets closed because they couldn’t compete.
There are still a few small grocery stores left in Wisconsin. G. Groppi Food Market, located in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, has stood the test of time.
It was opened by the Groppi family in 1913 and bought by John and Anne Nehring in 2003.
Many of the Nehring’s loyal customers go way back to when the Groppis owned the business.
Giovanna Germanotta has shopped at the corner grocery store since 1985. She said she loves how the Nehrings have kept the Groppi tradition intact.
Germanotta said she finds a lot of comfort in her memories of the store from when she was raising her kids.
“There are older families in this neighborhood and younger families are coming in and they need to have this experience –the Groppi family was a big deal in Bay View,” said Germanotta.
Germanotta said it’s not just a food store, it’s an experience involving food and people. The Nehrings added to that community experience by building a wine bar in the back of the store.
“It is sort of a social event when they (customers) come here, they know they can go sit at the bar if they want to have a glass of wine. It’s a nice way to relax at the end of the day, so I think that’s another nice thing that you don’t see in a lot of grocery stores nowadays,” said Anne Finch-Nehring, co-owner of G.Groppi Market.
Nehring said the neighborhood has embraced the store’s new additions. But still, the heart of the market will always be rooted in the Groppi Legacy.
The Nehrings said they focus on old fashioned business values. That includes simple things, like knowing regular customers by name, offering fresh homemade items, and selling specialty products that most big box stores don’t have.
“We can’t compete with the big box stores on the price of paper towels or anything like that, so we try and find really unique items that people can’t get from the other stores. We are constantly looking into finding that type of thing that will excite people energize them to come in and shop with us,” Nehring said.