Outpost opens its first ‘green’ certified market in Mequon

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NATURALLY: Brian Polster and Rob Binter of the design firm 360 Degrees stand in front of the new Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Mequon during the store’s May 12 grand opening. They designed the café area, custom fixtures and other aspects of the building. Retailworks also worked on the interior. MSI General served as contractor. Photo: Courtesy

Although its grand opening was less than a month ago, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Mequon — the cooperative’s fourth store in the greater Milwaukee area — is already getting a lot of attention.

“The response has been overwhelming (and) we are delighted,” said one of the store’s 80 new employees.

Located at 7590 Mequon Road, the juncture of Mequon and Wauwatosa roads, the stunning, 16,700-square-foot building is comparable in size to Outpost’s stores on Capitol Drive in Glendale, Kinnickinic Avenue in Bay View and State Street in Wauwatosa.

Even from a distance, the Mequon store’s design savvy is apparent. The building’s multi-textured exterior is constructed of several natural materials — it’s a harmonious blend of wood, metal, lannon stone, brick and glass. Large windows cover a significant portion of the building, and skylights provide additional natural light. Outpost used repurposed materials wherever possible. Some of the wood rafters inside the building, as well as part of the lannon stone exterior, were salvaged from a building that had stood at the site for many years. 

The Mequon store is Outpost’s first LEED-certified building, which means it’s about as “green” as possible. The building has rain gardens to catch run-off, energy-efficient lighting and an herb garden that eventually will yield herbs for the deli department’s salads.  

The pavement in the parking lot is permeable, allowing water to seep into the rain gardens instead of running off onto Mequon Road. Rainwater from the roof goes into underground cisterns and is used for plants on the grounds.

Countertops are made out of paper, and the flooring consists of recycled rubber. There’s even a charging station for electric cars.

Besides making the design as green as possible, Outposts’ directors wanted to create a “warm, inviting environment that has a ‘personal’ feel to it,” said Lisa Malmarowski, the store’s brand and store development manager.  “We wanted the building to reflect a more ‘human-scale’ experience.”

‘I can trust it’

“Hundreds of Outpost’s owners are from the Mequon area,” Malmarowski said, which makes it an ideal place to locate a store. Its members, who number about 19,000, collectively own Outpost. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Mequon is one of the state’s most affluent communities. Outpost offers top-quality products that contain no GMOs and are largely organic. Well-heeled shoppers tend to be more aware of the perks that come with healthier eating, and they’re better able to pay for them.

The new location also gives neighboring communities, such as Cedarburg, Germantown, Menomonee Falls and Brown Deer, accessibility to Outpost. 

Outpost member Lyn Falk, who lives in Thiensville, said she is “so happy to have an Outpost store practically in my back yard.” She admits to shopping at the store daily during its first week of operation. Falk owns her own design business, and she shops for herself and her fiancé. One of the best things about Outpost stores, she said, is that she can “stop reading labels. I don’t have to worry about the ingredients I’m eating,” she said. “If it’s sold at Outpost, I can trust it.” 

Like most Outpost shoppers, Falk said that taking care of her body is a priority in her life. For that reason, she appreciates the store’s commitment to quality food — and also local growers, she said.

And Falk admits to being an adventurous gourmet who enjoys “eating out of the mainstream.” Outpost helps her learn about new foods and methods of preparation, she said. “When I try some of the samples offered at the store,” she said, “I always learn something new.”

Outpost member Mark McCormick lives in Bayside, about half way between the Capitol Drive and Mequon locations. “On days when I’m doing business on the north side of town, I’ll probably drive to the Mequon location and pick up my lunch,” he figures. 

Like Falk, McCormick visited the Mequon Outpost during its first days of operation. Stepping inside was a déjà vu experience, he said.

“The stores are laid out basically the same, so you know exactly where to find what you are looking for,” he explained. 

Bur McCormick said he likes the new store’s “feeling of openness,” which makes shopping “a more relaxing experience.” 

The Mequon Outpost is also different because it’s the first to have a stone-hearth pizza oven and a bar that offers local beer, kombucha and sodas on tap.  (Kombucha is an effervescent drink made from fermented tea.) It’s also the first to have an outdoor, sheltered dining pavilion. 

The store also offers indoor dining at a café, a bar and a community room. The latter can be reserved for meetings, and Outpost staffers are happy to supply the food.  

WHERE TO GO: The Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Mequon is located at 7590 Mequon Road. The store is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the store and the cooperative, go to www.outpost.coop