BLOOMINGTON — The shelves are stocked and finishing touches are being made at Green Top Grocery in Bloomington.
Owners who have shares in the co-op grocery store and who lent additional money to the project were invited to a first-look event Tuesday to preview the space at 921 E. Washington St.
The 10,000-square-foot store will open Friday starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon.
Store Manager Michael Pennington said that after a five-year wait, the final stretch before officially opening feels exciting.
“It’s no longer a dream, but a physical building with local suppliers and employees,” said Pennington. “Everyone in this area will now have access to healthy food and education programs to prepare healthy meals.”
The store’s biggest focus is on local suppliers. Green Top considers “local” to be anything within 100 miles of Bloomington-Normal.
Katie Bishop attended Tuesday’s event as a lender and owner of the store. She is also a farmer at PrairiErth Farms in Atlanta, which will provide produce to Green Top.
Bishop said PrairiEarth grows vegetables, fruit, small grains and flowers, produces honey and raises cows, chickens and pigs.
“We’re bringing in our first order to the grocery store tomorrow of grains, carrots, potatoes and ground beef,” said Bishop.
She said her family chose to support the co-op because of its mission to support local producers.
“We send a large amount of our produce to Chicago because there aren’t enough local outlets,” she said. “Unlike any other grocery store in town, you will know the names and faces of the farmers that grow the food sold at Green Top."
Brian and Sarah Brennan of Bloomington are lenders and owners of Green Top, which earned them an early glance at the aisles with their 18-month-old son, Thomas.
“We’re excited to support local agriculture at the nicest grocery store in town. Food just tastes better when it hasn’t been shipped half way across the world,” said Brian Brennan.
Visitors tasted samples of deli food and toured the building.
The store will feature a large produce department, bulk and packaged food and a dairy and egg section.
The bulk dry goods section includes beans, rice, chocolate, nuts, sugar, spices and tea. Shoppers can bring their own containers to package the products or use one from the store.
While giving a tour of the wine and beer section, Green Top Marketing Manager Rainie Themer said the wine wall will be the "best natural and organic selection of wine in Bloomington-Normal."
A wellness section includes vitamins, hair care, skin care and paper goods.
The deli will offer soup, salad, sandwich and bakery items with seating on the second-floor mezzanine that overlooks the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site.
Cooking classes and educational programs will be hosted in the store’s test kitchen.
Shoppers who bring a reusable bag to the store can choose a charity for Green Top to donate to in their name.
Anyone can shop at the store, but owners should give their name or owner number at the register for applicable discounts.
The store will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.