The Riverwest Co-op grocery store and cafe (733 E. Clarke St.) has been a fantastic and invaluable neighborhood resource for more than two decades. But now, in the waning days of 2023, the Riverwest Co-op needs help. Fast.

“We have been asking for urgent help with saving the Co-op, and now the situation is even more dire,” reads a message from the Co-op’s Board of Directors on a new GoFundMe page. “We are just weeks away from having to close our doors unless we can get additional funding to help us survive. We are counting on you to help keep the Co-op’s doors open!”

The GoFundMe campaign is looking to raise “a minimum $50,000 for 2024.” You can chip in HERE.

So what’s going on? The message continues: “Our prospective lender unfortunately has decided not to recommend the Co-op’s $150,000 loan application for approval. At our current rate of financial losses, the Co-op can survive for only one more month before having to close unless we receive a considerable capital influx, reducing our costs dramatically, and reformulating our original revitalization plan.”

The Co-op goes on to describe a “three-pronged strategy” it will use to weather the storm. The strategy includes the GoFundMe campaign, reducing hours and services, and applying for smaller loans.

“The coming weeks will be very difficult, with discussions about reducing payroll expenses and possibly closing the Co-op,” the GoFundMe message continues. “That said, we have reason for optimism. Our November 2023 gross profit percentage improved dramatically from prior months due to pricing structure adjustments. Our cafe sales also increased 64% from the same time last year. These developments imply that our revitalization plan can work if we have enough financial capacity to put it in place.”

The Co-op also lists other ways to support the business, including eating at the cafe on Fridays, buying groceries, rounding up, and volunteering.

“We have a plan for how we can be successful for many years to come,” the message says, “but that plan requires investing in equipment, staffing, marketing, and so forth, for which we do not yet have the funds to put in motion.”

As hinted at, this isn’t the first time the Co-op has sounded the alarm. Similar calls-to-action were issued in 2022. Cafe service was temporarily suspended in July 2022.

Want more Milwaukee Record? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and/or support us on Patreon.


Mandatory Milwaukee: Riverwest Co-op celebrates 19 years of “food for people, not for profit”

Riverwest Co-op suspends cafe operations

About The Author

Avatar photo
Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.