'Retro' Country Market USA Packs It In After One Year

Brown Deer, Wis. -- Country Market USA, a retro supermarket that was hailed as a vehicle to jump-start a once-thriving commercial corridor here, has closed its doors just one year from the time it opened.

Country Market USA opened with a huge splash last fall, as part of the Brown Deer Commerce Center, a newly renovated development in southeastern Wisconsin occupying about 42,000 square feet, reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The 24,000-sq.-ft. store was to be the first phase of the development, but further plans were curtailed due to general lack of business and customer traffic. "We had a lot of interest in that store being successful. Unfortunately, the store went under," said Jesse Thyes, assistant village manager and community services director.

The store featured a full-service bakery, service meat department, and gourmet foods, with an emphasis on locally produced items and quality customer service, including having groceries bagged and brought to customers' cars.

Two large Pick 'n Save stores located nearby were cited as likely spoilers of Country Market USA's chances. The store's upscale-leaning marketing strategy was also called into question.

Country Market USA's owners had opened their first location in Racine, Wisc., but that store was closed last year. The owners were two former executives of the defunct Kohl's Food Stores chain-- Bill Koberstein, a 34-year Kohl's veteran and former director of perishables, and Dave Wojciechowski, a 30-year Kohl's executive who was head of construction and maintenance--who had hoped their operation would grow to four stores within a year.

While the owners reportedly defaulted on the terms of the lease agreement here, three prospective tenants are said to be vying for the space, including two chains and one local operation.

Kohl's had been a division of Montvale, N.J.-based A&P, but the struggling retailer closed or sold off the division's 23 stores last year.
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