PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Although its ownership has changed, a popular grocery, deli and retail store in downtown Platteville will remain a welcoming space for a spectrum of customers.
Since its 2008 founding, Driftless Market, 95 W. Main St., has drawn customers who pluck locally sourced and bulk foods from store shelves, slurp hot soup from the deli and chat with their neighbors.
Maintaining a sense of community was the key draw for the business’ four new proprietors, who took the reins this month.
“One of the first things that we noticed when we started working in the store and came in contact with customers was that they weren’t here just for a transaction,” said co-owner Royal Palmer. “It felt like these people were coming in here for an interaction … for something that mattered more to them than just buying their groceries.”
He and his husband, Tony Palmer, have teamed up with Royal’s sister and her husband, Robin and Chad Cline, who collectively purchased the business after months of planning.
Robin, a longtime Platteville resident, desired to see the business thrive, describing it as a source of Main Street’s vitality.
“The customer base here are very conscientious, community-oriented people. It’s been a haven for students of the LGBTQ community to find employment and have a safe place,” she said.
Royal and Tony moved to Platteville from Minneapolis, where Royal worked in international logistics for Target and Tony managed a coffee shop.
A native of the Village of Pepin, Royal said he appreciates small-town dynamics but recalls the challenges of growing up as a young gay person in a community of just several hundred residents.
“That was almost a motivating factor because now that I’m an adult and married, it kind of felt like it’s our duty to come back to our roots,” Royal said.
Tony, who hails from Brainerd, Minn., agreed.
“I think everyone wants to be part of something,” he said. “Doing this made us really become a part of something, and we want to reach out to anyone who wants that.”
Robin and Chad will continue to work for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, where Chad is an education director, and Robin is a psychological associate.
Meanwhile, Royal and Tony will head daily store operations, assisted by six employees and the Clines’ children.
“It’s pretty cool to be working for my parents and doing something that they enjoy because I don’t necessarily get to see what they do all day at work,” said Elijah Cline, 16.
The Clines and Palmers will continue to sell fair-trade items, clothing and art. They intend to increase the hot food and beverage offerings at the deli and offer kitchen classes.
Founding co-owner Robin Timm ran the business with her wife, Jayne Dunnum; Heidi Dyas-McBeth; and Bill McBeth. Timm called the transition “bittersweet.”
“But it’s hard work, and we’re all getting a little bit tired,” she said. “We’re happy that we have such a delightful family that is taking over.”