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The people spoke and a corporation listened PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 18:27

The biggest economic news of the year so far in Port Washington did not come from City Hall or any of the developers working on their ambitious plans for the marina district and lake bluff land. It came from a corporate head man in an announcement that was refreshing in its clarity, directness and optimism. The news was that Port Washington will have a supermarket after the only grocery store in the city closes its doors—and a spanking new one at that.
    That is big economic news not only because it will mean a substantial investment in the aging NorthPort Shopping Center, but because the stigma of being a community that could not support a grocery store would have been a blow to the city’s efforts to grow by attracting new residents and businesses.
    Beyond that, it is welcome news for Port Washington’s nearly 12,000 residents because the possibility that Port would be a city without a single grocery store would have diminished the satisfying quality of life this progressive community and its institutions provide.
    The impact of the news was heightened by the fact that it was unexpected. Just days before the announcement city officials were saying there was little hope of getting a replacement for the Sanfilippo Sentry store.
    Then Paul Butera, chairman of Piggly Wiggly Midwest, speaking in effect directly to the people of Port Washington through Ozaukee Press, called the newspaper just before last week’s Wednesday morning news deadline and said: “We are going to open a store, a Piggly Wiggly.” No hems, haws or nuances—there will be a store.
    Butera added to the good news when he said, “It’ll be like a brand new store there.” After Sentry closes in the next few weeks, a complete remodeling of the 47,000 square foot space will start and in about three months a new supermarket will open.
    A dynamic fueled by public opinion can be credited with this surprising development. City officials knew for months before it was made public that the city was likely to lose its only grocery store. Their discussions with Piggly Wiggly Midwest, the firm headquartered in Sheboygan that owns the shopping center on the north side of Port Washington, about finding a replacement went nowhere. But when the imminent closing of the Sentry market was reported by this newspaper, city residents in substantial numbers expressed their dismay over the prospect of being without a full-service food store and their consternation over the initial decision by the shopping center owner to rule out a supermarket as a tenant for the Sentry space.
    The people spoke, and a corporation listened. The people of Port Washington will get a supermarket and the corporation will get a generous measure of good will.
    Big news, good news.   

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