Impact Award Winner: Canopy Street Market is Lincoln's Downtown Grocery with a Small-Town Feel
This feature kicks off an ongoing series highlighting DLA's 2018 Downtown Impact Award winners. The Impact Awards recognize businesses or individuals that have made a significant contribution to downtown Lincoln. Canopy Street Market was the recipient of the 2018 Downtown Trailblazer award.
BY MADELINE CHRISTENSEN
A Monday morning at Canopy Street Market looks something like this: a friendly clerk greets you at the door, light streams in through windows above neatly stacked shelves, Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” plays softly overhead.
It may seem more like a small-town Nebraska grocer than one located in downtown Lincoln’s Haymarket district, complete with apartments overhead and a parking garage next door.
That’s the atmosphere co-owner Jill Moline was going for when she opened Canopy Street Market, the first full-service grocery store downtown Lincoln has seen in decades, located at 140 S. Canopy Street.
It’s no surprise Moline wanted the shop to have a friendly, small-town feel. She grew up in Imperial, Nebraska, the daughter of a couple who owned the local grocery store. Later in life she moved back to Imperial with her husband, Allo Communications President Brad Moline, took over the store's ownership, and opened two more Colorado grocery locations by 2013.
“I grew up in the grocery industry, so I’m just used to the grocery business,” Moline said. “I’ve had so many different jobs, but I feel the most comfortable just talking to customers and hanging out in a grocery store.”
Moline saw the need for a grocery store when she and her husband got an apartment in the Haymarket area four years ago. She joined Mark Whitehead of Whitehead Oil to pursue the idea, and plans for the store were announced in the summer of 2016. Canopy Street opened its doors August of 2018.
Although Canopy Street’s construction and opening process was slower than her other stores, Moline’s vision has stayed the same throughout the challenges, she said.
“I spoke to a group the other day and she said her husband went to the store and said it’s a perfect mix between Whole Foods and Leon’s,” Moline said. “I said that’s good, I wanted it to be like your own store. As a customer I want you to feel comfortable here. It’s a smaller store, you can visit with the meat cutter, you can do special orders. That’s our vision.”
Moline describes the 8,000-square-foot store as a “Lincoln original.”
“We have a bunch of managers from a lot of different, local chains,” she said. “They’re bringing their own vision here, and their knowledge and experience, as well as mine, from being from a smaller store. We’re hoping to create a different shopping experience for our customers, and more people will rely upon us as their primary grocery store.”
Canopy Street’s establishment effectively ended downtown Lincoln’s “food desert” categorization--meaning the area’s residents previously had limited or no access to the affordable and nutritious food that comes from a local grocery store within ten miles.
With a meat counter, deli, fresh produce, convenience store staples and beer, wine and liquor, the store is small but fully stocked.
“We can tell just within our first few months that people down here love local, they like organic and fresh, and all those things,” Moline said. “So we’re just trying to bring as much as that as we can.”
Canopy Street also provides daily lunch and dinner specials ranging from Chinese food on Monday to Italian food on Wednesday, ready to grab and go. Breakfast items like sausage and egg sandwiches and biscuits and gravy are made fresh Monday through Saturday.
The store is looking forward to a grand opening Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, and offering online delivery and in-store pickup in November.
Moline said she appreciates how welcoming downtown Lincoln has been after a long time coming.
“This Saturday, some people were coming in before the game and this older lady forgot to bring stuff for her tailgate, and when I checked her out she said, ‘This is the friendliest, happiest, store I've ever been to,’” Moline said. “And that's what we want people to know. They can come here, hopefully find what they need, have an enjoyable shopping experience and get in and out if they’re in a hurry. We want to make it fun to shop again.”
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