Downtown Lincoln has ended its time as a grocery shopping wasteland with the recent arrival of Canopy Street Market.
The store, located on Canopy and N streets, officially opened its doors Thursday, Aug. 30. According to co-owner Jill Moline, the store’s construction faced setbacks, pushing back the projected opening, which was initially intended for the beginning of the 2017 football season.
Moline, who has had two sons attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she was in the process of remodeling a store in Colorado when she realized she had the opportunity to build a store in the downtown Lincoln area.
“I realized how bad of a situation it was, that it really truly was a food desert,” she said. “We started looking at possible places to put a grocery store.”
Moline has good memories from living in Lincoln as a student and said she wanted to play a part in bringing a grocery store to the downtown area.
From start to finish, Moline said the project took 19 months to complete. It took a long time to get the process going, from talking to city council members and obtaining buildings permits, to overcoming weather which halted initial construction.
Before construction started, Moline said they found the ground below the site was contaminated, although she did not specify the type of contaminate. Since the building is five stories and the grocery store is at the bottom of the building, it took time to secure the right type of plumbing for the grocery’s floor.
Moline said the store was almost ready to open in June when someone stole copper meant for the store’s plumbing. The alleged thief also ripped out wiring already set up in the building, but Moline said police caught him not long afterward.
Moline has experience building other grocery stores from the ground up; in eastern Colorado, she said she helped build a grocery store that took roughly 16 weeks to complete.
“That ... was our only other experience with a building project, but again that was just us,” she said. “Small towns run a lot differently than building in Lincoln.”
Now that the store is open, Moline said she is thrilled by the positive reception from customers.
Two UNL students, Cicily Yaw and Aly Campbell, said the store is in an excellent location with its proximity to the 8N apartments and other housing.
Campbell, a senior entrepreneurship major, said she has been to Canopy Street Market three times since it opened over a week ago.
Yaw, a senior accounting major, said one of her roommates doesn’t have a car, so she benefits from the store’s location.
“Today we just needed a couple things so it’s nice to just walk [over],” Yaw said.
Bailey Ahlberg, who works at Indigo Bridge Books and Cafe on P street, said the store is in an accessible location.
“It’s within walking distance of so much housing, but ultimately I think downtown has really needed a market like this for a really long time,” she said. “The farmers market is great that we have down here, but that’s only part of the year, so I think this is going to be awesome.”
Moline said the customers have varied from students to construction workers to business people working close by.
Additionally, there has been a different kind of traffic due to game days. Before inclement weather cancelled the Akron game, Moline said a woman was relieved to find chapstick in the store to replace the tube she forgot.
Moline said many people tailgating come into the store to buy ice, and the market will offer catering to tailgates before future Husker football games.
Canopy Street Market is open to hearing people’s suggestions for what the store should hold, according to Moline.
“We just hope that everyone that stops by has a good experience,” she said.