ANDERSON — At first, it was known simply as “Mom’s Dream.”
When Anna Ulam began thinking about opening a specialty market, she was reluctant to share the concept with her husband, Daniel – himself a small business owner – because, as she told her daughter, “if it’s a good idea, he would just push me to do it and do it fast.”
Two years later, her idea is set to become a reality.
When Ulam opens Collective Roots, 1102 Central Ave., it will be the first grocery store of any kind in downtown Anderson in nearly 50 years. Local economic development officials have been trying for years to entice a grocer to the city’s hub, and Ulam’s business, they say, is a big step forward in that undertaking.
“It’s very significant,” said Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department. “The fact that she’s been able to do that in working with the owner of that property, and the fact that that property is 100% rented, 100% occupied, that’s a win all the way around.”
Ulam plans to offer locally made and grown items, including produce, grass-fed beef, breads, coffee products and pastries. The café will serve the same items available in the market, she said, to provide customers with ideas on incorporating ingredients into their own recipes.
“I really wanted to target health food,” she said. “We don’t have a whole foods (store) like Trader Joe’s, and a lot of people are looking to their health and making choices. We all have to drive to Indianapolis for those resources.”
Collective Roots will be housed on the ground floor of the Beverly Terrace apartment building. Including a patio area overlooking Central Avenue, the market and café will take up about 3,000 square feet, Ulam said. Plans to open in the spring were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic, but she intends to have a soft opening soon, saying in a Facebook post that she has a date in mind for a surprise “pop-up” opening.
“There is really nothing like it in the downtown area,” said Matt Quinney, who owns the building. “Indiana has a lot of small towns, but there aren’t many that have the character and the feel that downtown Anderson has. We think this will be a really good asset, not just to the people who live in the building, but for the downtown as a whole.”
The store will accept WIC vouchers, as well as vouchers from the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
Ulam said she’s received plenty of encouraging feedback on the concept from local officials and residents. Her insistence on using vendors exclusively from Madison County is purposeful and intentional, she said.
“It’s really important to me to use all locally sourced products because it helps those small businesses,” Ulam said.
Several factors converged to help Ulam decide to locate her business downtown, she said.
“I ran back and forth between downtown and some other areas of the city,” Ulam said. “Downtown is kind of coming up, or is up, and I wanted to capitalize on that. But also, finding this space was just perfect.”
With a growing lineup of restaurants, craft breweries and other after-hours destinations along Meridian Street, a grocery store is seen by many developers as an essential complement to a revitalized, walkable entertainment district.
“We believe that downtown can and is becoming a destination, but more importantly, it’s going to be an attractive place for millennials and those who are younger than millennials to live,” Winkler said.