Founding Members

In 2006, a small group of like-minded, independently owned Milwaukee based businesses began to meet to discuss how to make Milwaukee a more sustainable community and build market share for their businesses. Our Founding Members are profiled below.


Recognizing the need for strong, quality coffee in Milwaukee, Colectivo Coffee (formerly know as Alterra) opened its first café in 1994. Now with eleven locations in the Milwaukee area, Colectivo provides high-quality coffee, tea, baked goods, brewing equipment and accessories to a range of coffee lovers. The company roasts beans for over 400 wholesale customers as well as its own cafes, keeping the vintage Probat roasters that serve as a café backdrop running almost constantly.

Watch the coffee-making process at our Riverwest café - from beans to brew - while sipping the results of relentless attention to strength, consistency, and quality.



Beans & Barley is an institution on Milwaukee's East Side. The 35-year old business is known both as a social hub and a seller of wholesome, homemade food.

As a neighborhood "specialty" grocery store for the East Side and greater Milwaukee, they offer everything from fresh produce to "fresh" greeting cards. From its beginnings as a Hippie health food store, it has carried full lines of vitamins and supplements, as well as homeopathies, books, and body care.

The "all-homemade" deli, with a large selection of hot and cold foods to go, includes a full menu of carry-out food from the restaurant menu.

The restaurant itself seats eighty-five people indoors, in addition to summer patio seating, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The menu includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialties, beer and wine.



Founded by the Brewery Workers Union in 1934 Brewery Credit union has evolved into a community development financial cooperative serving anyone living or working in southeastern Wisconsin.

Brewery Credit union offers a full range of financial services including small business loans, mortgage banking and a payday loan alternative. In addition the credit union offers the convenience of a full service branch with extended hours inside Outpost Natural Foods located in Bay View.



In 1844, Wisconsin was still a territory. Milwaukee had one of the best harbors on the Great Lakes and the confluence of three navigable rivers. The emerging city of 1,700 people was growing and so was lake commerce. Greenleaf D. Norris, an early settler, opened a ship's chandlery and sail loft at the corner of Water and Erie Streets.

It was an era of ship building supported by dense forests of near by oak. Norris and his employee, Andrew M. Joys, supplied cordage, covers, oars, tackle blocks, fittings, oils, paints, pitch and provisions for the commercial sailing vessels. One of the ships built in the Davidson Shipyard at the foot of Greenfield Avenue was the Alice B. Norris, a three mast 189 ft. schooner named for Norris' wife. It was first commanded by Captain John Joys. The Joys brothers assumed ownership of the company in 1875.

The R. Laacke Co. was founded in 1887 by Richard T. Laacke, an 18 year old steeplejack, sign hanger and awning manufacturer. Tent making led to the R. Laacke Company's growth as a camping outfitter. For many years the company was located at 1025 W. Walnut. The firms merged in 1957 and moved to the present site at 1433 N. Water Street in 1961. H.C. Woehr, son-in-law of Richard Laacke, was president and principal owner for twenty-two years.

In 1982, Laacke & Joys was purchased by Ralph J. Wollmer, a long time Laacke employee, and Sargeant E. Joys, the fourth generation member of the Joys family in the firm. In 1996 the company changed ownership and is still locally owned and operated by the managing partner, Marsha K. Mather. Laacke & Joys continues to be Milwaukee's oldest manufacturer and retailer in Milwaukee. Our retail store features camping, canoeing, kayaking, ski & snowboard equipment, clothing & accessories along with casual living furniture.

Laacke & Joys precedes most present firms and organizations of any kind in Wisconsin. Quality continues to be the mainstay of our business, both in the merchandise we sell in the stores and the products we make in our factory. Our loyal customers have been the most important factor in our longevity.



If you're from Milwaukee, chances are you know good beer and that Lakefront Brewery brews it!

Located along the Milwaukee River near downtown Milwaukee, Lakefront Brewery began in 1987 with only sixty barrels of production sold exclusively to taverns within rolling distance of the brewery.



If you're a lover of naturally delicious foods and you're in the greater Milwaukee area then Outpost is the place for you!

Our conveniently located eco-friendly stores offer a unique and pleasing shopping experience bursting with fresh, natural and organic foods and hard to find items.

You'll find what you need at Outpost from fresh produce, meats, dairy, bakery and made-from-scratch deli items to a full line of grocery and personal care products, gifts, cards, garden and yard care, magazines and more!

We're a locally owned cooperative where diversity is celebrated and education is part of everything we sell. Co-owned by over 13,000 individuals from Southeastern Wisconsin, Outpost employs over 300 people, as well as publishes a free monthly food and wellness magazine, The Exchange. Outpost is the fourth largest cooperatively owned natural foods grocer in the nation. But the best part... shopping in our stores is fun!

Proudly part of the local Milwaukee scene since 1970.



The Pabst Theater, built in 1895, was restored to its original splendor in 2001 and presents a wide variety of live concerts and entertainment events featuring local, national and international artists. The Pabst Theater believes Milwaukee and its surrounding communities deserve premiere entertainment experiences at an affordable price - right here in Milwaukee. The Pabst Theater actively partners with locally owned businesses and organizations.

The Pabst Theater is the 4th oldest continuous operating theater in the United States. The theater has been designated as a City of Milwaukee Landmark, a State of Wisconsin Historical Site and is listed as A National Historic Landmark with The U.S. Department of Interior.

The Pabst Theater management also manages The Riverside Theater, as well as the historic Turner Hall Ballroom.



Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops was founded in 1927 and closed in 2009. At the time, Schwartz was Milwaukee's oldest and largest independent bookshop with four retail locations. 

Until the end, the bookshop prided itself in a broad selection of titles and the kind of personal service found in a good, old-fashioned bookshop. During the 90’s hundreds of authors shared their work annually with Milwaukee readers. The Schwartz Gives Back Program donated over nearly $350,000 to local nonprofit organizations.

The late A. David Schwartz, son of the founder, was known for his bookselling credo, which included: The true profit in bookselling is the social profit; the bottom line, the measure of the impact of the bookshop on the community.

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