The Green Tomato Artisan Market & Kitchen and is a new tiny local food store opening Monday in Appleton. Given the early buzz, it appears it will have no problem finding plenty of shoppers.
“On Facebook, we had 500 likes in the first 30 hours. That was huge. That showed me that this was needed,” said Tracy Vinz, a farmer who co-owns Olden Produce in Ripon with husband Richard. They’re partners in The Green Tomato with Wayne Wojciechowski, a food producer who goes under the name Hippie Wayne.
The new store carries only food, and the food is all from Wisconsin.
“We’re trying to help the small guys,” said Vinz.
“That’s why we have Terra Verde coffee, not Alterra,” said Holly Whyte, store manager.
The 400-square-foot market is at 3402 N. Richmond St., in the multi-tenant building that also houses Taste of the Windy City, a block away from U.S. 41. It’s the front quarter of the former Culinary Kitchen of the Fox Valley, a licensed commercial kitchen that Wojciechowski now operates.
Consumers view The Green Tomato as a reliable source for local bread, yogurt, honey, maple syrup, vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy.
“It’s really hard to get ahold of these products when there isn’t a farmers market,” said Maggie Payne of Appleton. “It gives me the opportunity to buy Sugar River yogurt and not wait for Saturday.”
Payne was one of several hundred people who checked out four preview days held in April. Farmers and small food companies like Red Barn, Gitto and Ann’s Gluten-Free Bakery set up before the store formally opened. Payne picked up local greenhouse-grown lettuce, potatoes, yogurt, mushrooms and bread.
“The nice thing about the place is that they’re offering staple foods that are local. It’s important that I support our local economy before I support someone in California,” Payne said. “It’s also important to me to know who my vendors are. It’s knowing their farming practices. I know Tracy and how she farms. I know her vendors are within her standards.”
The market also appeals to shopper Dena Wagoner who will make the drive from Oshkosh because she says she feels confident the natural and organic foods here are “not filled with a lot of junk.”
“We simply want the food. We don’t want the other stuff on it,” she said. “A single apple that’s not organic can be sprayed 15 times with chemicals. Here, it’s got the dirt on it, so you know it was just picked. My daughter and I wash it together. It’s a food education for her.”
See the Facebook page or www.greentomatomarket.com. To start, hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays when there are no farmers markets. Optional yearly $15 memberships pay back 2.5 percent back on purchases in the form of a store credit.
—Maureen Wallenfang: 920-993-1000, ext. 287, or email@example.com; on Twitter @wallenfang