The Regent Market Co-op at 2136 Regent Street is a small neighborhood grocery store with its own character. The store opened in the early 1920s and went through several incarnations—some people still call it Joe’s after Joe Heggestad, who owned the place from the 1970s to the 1990s. It went co-op in 1998 with help from hundreds of supportive neighbors.
Under Joe’s management , the Regent Market acquired familiar features: full lines of fine meats and produce, high quality service, a friendly atmosphere, and a sense of humor. The store was also nicknamed “The Little Store That Could,” and “The Little Store Where You Can’t Avoid Your Friends.” At his retirement, 500 customers gave Joe a party which made newspaper headlines. Mayor Paul Soglin officially declared it “Joe Heggestad Day.”
When the Co-op was founded in 1998, it did not seem likely that a grocery of any kind would continue, but almost 1,000 friends of the grocery came together to rescue it. In retrospect, it made perfect sense: the neighborhood had always felt as if it owned the store. Incorporating the co-op merely matched reality with perception. Since the Co-op’s founding, it has overcome many obstacles in its struggle to continue serving the community. It survives quite well despite competition from nearby Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. But through member support, the committed and devoted management of John Wendt and the hard-working dedicated employees, the Co-op grows and thrives.