The inside of Wildwood Community Market.
November 29, 2022128 Views
Walking into the small, family oriented business nestled on Howard Street, one can see customers shopping or enjoying a fresh meal, kids playing and employees greeting people with a smile on their face.
Wildwood Community Market was created by co-owners Bryony Renouf and her husband Joe Mager with the goal to support other local small businesses and create a “community space,” as Renouf said.
The process of bringing Wildwood Community Market to life was not a quick one. It took around a decade to put the owners’ plans into action, Renouf said.
“We had been talking about doing this for about 10 to 12 years,” said Renouf.
They had the vision for Wilwood to be a “local centric” market where vendors can sell their products.
“We try to get all our produce as close to this building as we can,” said CJ Jeffries, the community relations manager at Wildwood. “You can go to the famer’s market and food hub, but sometimes those are hard to access, so we wanted to create a place where the local sellers could sell 24/7.”
Wildwood sells products of mostly local vendors, with other exceptions of further out small businesses. Those working at the market have formed a relationship with many of their vendors.
“A lot of our vendors are on a first name basis,” Renouf said. “All the gifts and smaller items are probably 90% independent women-owned businesses, so even if it’s not local, they’re still tiny businesses.”
The staff at the market are close, Renouf said. They are a mix of long time friends and new faces who “seemed like the right fit” during the interview process.
“We knew a couple of the staff, but mostly they’re just new to the family,” Renouf said. “You couldn’t ask for better employees.”
Mager and Renouf both have previous experience working for and running local businesses.
“He has managed natural food markets for longer than 15 years,” said Renouf. “We also have another business in town — Bluebird Exchange.”
Bluebird Exchange is a children’s consignment shop located at 240 Shadowline Dr. that opened in 2013.
Getting Wildwood open and running was slow, and there were a few delays, Renouf said.
“Two years ago it really started taking shape,” Jeffries said. “Then we found this building, and it took us a year to do the build out because it previously didn’t have a kitchen and didn’t have the set up for a restaurant.”
Wildwood Community Market had a soft opening June 16.
“We basically just came in, turned on the lights, flipped on the open sign, and let word of mouth do it,” Jeffries said. “We didn’t want to get overwhelmed and disappoint people. We also didn’t have our meat program yet.”
Jeffries said following Boonerang, a music and arts festival downtown happening two days after Wildwood’s soft opening, business picked up.
“That day was insane. We sold every single item in the deli case,” Jeffries said. “That was really good for us.”
On Oct. 15, Wildwood had their grand opening, also celebrating the store’s four month anniversary.
As far as advertising goes, Wildwood has mostly become known through “word of mouth” Jeffries said, but the staff has plans to focus more on advertising in the future.
“We need to do more of it, but we got so busy so fast that a lot of our marketing ideas haven’t been executed yet,” Renouf said. “We do have a pretty good following on Instagram, and we started that a year before we opened.”
Not only is Wildwood a place to shop for groceries, but customers can order and dine-in on food that is also made with the goal of supporting local farmers.
“Stuff that you don’t see on the surface is that even a lot of the small ingredients in the kitchen, you wouldn’t go anywhere else and have local garlic,” Renouf said.
In addition to the seating provided for dine in customers, Wildwood has a play area for children. Renouf is originally from England, and she said this played a part in why having the area was important to her.
“In Europe, children are part of day-to-day life in every way. Our kids are always running around here,” Renouf said. “They don’t want to be treated as a nuisance, so it’s just a way to include everybody.”
Boone has allowed for Wildwood to cultivate a variety of customers, ranging from students, locals and tourists, Jeffries said.
“We’ve had really good feedback from the community,” Jeffries said. “It is just a town where people really look out for each other and try to help each other create something small within the community.”
However, the market’s location in downtown has made Wildwood one of the most accessible for students.
“We never planned on being downtown. It was just because we fell in love with this building,” Renouf said. “So, that has other challenges as far as not just serving students, but serving the larger local community.”
The staff at Wildwood are coming up with ideas to make their shop more accessible to everyone in Boone.
“You know, if they can park wherever they can find we’ll load their groceries. We’re coming up with some different ways to make that easier for people to shop down here,” Renouf said.
Wildwood is gaining frequent customers, like Lauren Anderson who said she visits “every weekend.”
“It’s a good fast option, it’s good local food, it’s priced really well, and I like the whole environment here. I think it’s great,” customer Lauren Anderson said.
Right now, the main goal the staff at Wildwood has is to continue growing the business, but they also have bigger plans that are further in the future, both Renouf and Jeffries said.
“Potentially down the road is opening another place that is not downtown and more accessible to everybody,” Renouf said. “We’ll probably extend our hours, and we plan on having a walk up food window that’ll go probably until 2 a.m., probably next year.”
Lydia Jacobson (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Lawrence, KS.
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