Madison Wisconsin Local Grocers

by wcascade40

If you think it is important to shop local, this is a list of good grocery stores in Madison, Wisconsin.



I am a recent convert to shopping local. I have always gone to the farmer’s market but I never saw a reason to avoid national chains. But now I feel different, I feel it is important to shop at places that have a stake in the area and for the money to stay local.

Luckily, I live in Madison, Wisconsin where it is pretty easy to shop local. We do have a large selection of national chains, such as Whole Foods, Super Wal-Mart, and so one. But there are many local choices. These are some good ones. There are also a few ethnic stores but I have never shopped there so don't know if I can really recommend them.

vintage grocery ad
vintage grocery ad


In the summer months, before you go to any grocery store, try to go to farmer’s market. It is on the Capital Square downtown from 7 am to 1 pm. Try to go early because by 9 am it is packed. Madison has one of the best farmer’s markets in the country with hundreds of vendors. Besides fresh fruits and vegetable you can get dozens of other products. Honey, various kinds of fresh mushrooms, bedding plants, fresh and dried flowers and fresh herbs.


You can get ostrich jerky, fresh meat, cheese curds and cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk. There are wonderful bakeries that have a variety of breads, including sourdough, cheesy, 7 grain, and on and on. They have cinnamon bread, banana bread, elephant ears, doughnuts, cookies and whoopee pies. If you don’t know what a whoopee pie, think a suzie Q, but bigger and lots better. Make this your first stop when shopping on Saturday, you won’t regret it.



 Since I live downtown, this is my local grocer. It is downtown just off State street. Quite a few students uses this store and they get a 5 percent discount on Wedensdays.  Seniors gets the discount on Thursdays. It is pretty much a standard grocery store, except with a good size wine and beer section. Even though the store is small, the prices are reasonable. When farmer’s market isn’t open, I do get produce here. It is a small department, but the fruit and vegetables are consistently good. I don’t even bother to check expiration dates on anything, they are very good about rotating the groceries.


 This is a local store and they sell many local products. Recently, they have developed a good cheese section, featuring Wisconsin cheeses. This store should supply most of your grocery needs if you live downtown. This store offers 2 types of free delivery. If you come to the store and buy at least 40 dollars worth of groceries, they will take your information and deliver the groceries that day. There is an exception however, they will not deliver on UW home football days. The store also has a website where you can pick out the goods and pay online, then they will deliver downtown at no charge.  I have never used the website, but when I buy a lot at the store, I do have the stuff delivered and they are pretty prompt. I don’t generally tip the driver.




Online shopping




This grocery store is a little different. It used to be part of a Wisconsin chain, but the Sentry chain doesn’t really exist anymore. The stores are now supplied by SuperValu, which in addition to being a wholesaler owns a couple thousand grocery stores, including Cub Foods. So Sentry make look like a national chain, but it really isn’t, it’s a local store. Metcalfe only owns one other store, I consider this store to be local and I do shop there when I am on the West side.


Metcalfe’s has a good meat department, their produce and seafood are pretty good.  But the best thing about the store is the truly excellent bakery. One other thing about Metcalfe is that it you can order groceries online and have them delivered for free. There is a 40 dollar minimum for delivery.  I usually tip the driver a couple of dollars, they are polite and take the groceries right to your kitchen.


726 NORTH MIDVALE BLVD. This is part of the Hilldale Mall, which has a mix of national chains and local stores. It also has an excellent movie theatre, Sundance.


Online shopping


Willy st coop is a local cooperative, you don’t have to join to shop there. But if you are going to go there a lot, it makes sense to become a member. They do have the standard things you would see in any grocery store, but they specialize in organic and locally grown products. The co-op also have a good line of natural beauty products.


The store isn’t very big, it’s rather crowded. But they have a good amount of products and the prices are pretty reasonable. I am lactose intolerant and appreciate the non-dairy products they offer. They also have a lot of gluten-free products. You can shop online, there is no dollar limit and the drivers are not tipped.





Online shopping





I am recommending Woodmans even though it is not technically a local store. There are somewhere around 12 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. So it is only sort of local, but it is employee owned. So the owners are local even though it is part of a chain. Woodmans is a difficult store. It is very rough looking, some of the goods are just left on pallets on the aisle, lots of the produce is let in big boxes and you have to sort them out yourself. But Woodmans is so cheap and they have just a great variety of goods.


Woodman’s produce is cheap, but you need to check it over before you buy it. If you don’t check it you can find spoiled fruit when you get home. The bakery and meat departments are nothing special. But where the store shines is the great variety of products, including lots of ethnic and imported foods. And I mean lots, not 2 shelves of Mexican and a shelf of Chinese. They also offer many local products and many things you will find nowhere else. The store also stocks a good amount of gluten-free products.


Go to this store expecting lots of selection, including a separate beer, wine and liquor room. Expect great deals, poor lighting, worn floors and unfriendly checkers. But with the selection and value I can’t resist this store.






Updated: 06/05/2011, wcascade40
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cazort on 10/27/2013

I love Madison, Wisconsin; I even considered moving there once, but decided to stay on the East Coast for the time being. The farmer's market there really is incredible...I haven't seen anything quite like it anywhere else. I'm definitely glad I got to visit it when I went there.

There are some outstanding small markets in Philadelphia and in my hometown of Lancaster, PA.

I also like shopping at ethnic food markets. There are a ton in Philly that I visit periodically, and there is a fantastic farmer's market / multi-ethnic supermarket in Newark, DE that is one of my favorite places ever. In West Philly there's an amazing 24/7 middle eastern grocery, called Makkah Market which I'm a huge fan of. And I love Indian and Asian markets too.

I really appreciate your drawing attention to these smaller, independent, and unique sources of food!

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