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Milwaukee’s Newest Organic Option

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market offers everything from deli and frozen foods to beer and wine

Sep. 6, 2016
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reported in May that consumer demand for organically produced goods continues to show double-digit growth, and organic products are available in almost 20,000 natural grocers and nearly three out of four conventional supermarkets. Milwaukeeans now have another organic option with the opening of Wisconsin’s first Fresh Thyme Farmers Market (470 E. Pleasant St.), a grocery store specializing in natural foods. The Milwaukee location opened in June in a 28,000 square foot space in the North End.

Fresh Thyme opened its first store in Mount Prospect, Ill. in April 2014 and has since grown quickly throughout the Midwest, currently boasting locations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and now Wisconsin. The store offers a full produce department, a deli with vast grab-and-go options, bakery, meats, frozen foods, health and beauty, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements and beer and wine.

The Milwaukee Fresh Thyme market has a modern, open feel, artistically arranged with low shelving. Unique to the Milwaukee store is that customers can sip wine or beer while they shop, available from the bars within the store. This concept is the first Fresh Thyme store to offer this feature and has been well received in the Beer Capitol, said Dave Bernier, vice president of operations for Fresh Thyme. “When you have a grocery store where you can drink a glass of wine and do your shopping, it usually goes over well,” he chuckled. “Milwaukee is currently the only store with a growler bar and a wine bar.” 

The Milwaukee store also has Fresh Thyme’s first coffee and juice bar, so shoppers can also enjoy a smoothie or latte while shopping. Bernier said the build-your-own hot sandwiches and pizza bar, the salad bar and the grab-and-go items are popular in the urban stores such as Milwaukee. “We offer a huge selection of grab-and-go items for the dual-income families who don’t have a lot of time,” he said.

Fresh Thyme has its own line of snacks, beverages and packaged items. Their butchers make sausage fresh daily, with approximately 30 varieties available at any given time. The bulk area features about 400 items such as nuts, grains, candies, seeds, granola and flour. Bernier said the vitamins and supplements department is a huge draw, offering more than 5,000 items as more people shift toward alternative healthy lifestyles.

Although it’s a retail chain, Fresh Thyme is committed to forging connections to the local community, from stocking local products to partnering with local nonprofits. The Cultivate Community initiative donates to area charities. “We like to be active in the community and do our part to be a good neighbor by not only selling groceries, but also being a part of the fabric of the community,” Bernier said. The company hired more than 100 people from the Milwaukee area for its first Wisconsin store. 

Wisconsin has been on Fresh Thyme’s radar and has signed on to additional locations in Greenfield, Kenosha and Brookfield. They’re also considering Green Bay and Menomonee Falls for expansion. Fresh Thyme CEO Chris Sherrell spent the early part of his life in Wisconsin before moving to Phoenix, Ariz.

For more information, visit freshthyme.com.

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