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History unveiled at original Woodman's store in Janesville

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Woodman's Food Market

The original Woodman's Food Market sign was revealed while renovating the building to make way for Rock Realty on Milton Avenue in Janesville. The grocery store business was founded here in 1921.

A renovation project in Janesville has revealed a piece of Wisconsin's grocery history that has created quite a buzz.

Rock Realty is remodeling a building at 922 Milton Ave. for a real estate office. The building most recently was home to a thrift shop but when the awning was recently removed it revealed a sign for Woodman's Food Market.

The grocery company was founded on the site in 1921, two years after John Woodman opened a stand to sell produce grown on the Woodman farm. Their first store was 580-square-feet and was ultimately expanded three times before the Woodman family built an 11,000-square-foot store in 1956 at 1266 Milton Ave.

"We are looking into the possibility of safely removing the sign from the exterior," Rock Realty posted Monday on its Facebook page. "In the meantime, make sure you swing by for a look at this blast from the past."

Woodman's Food Market

The original Woodman's Food Market sign could be removed from a building at 922 Milton Ave. in Janesville and preserved. The sign was uncovered during a renovation of the building for Rock Realty.

Woodman's, of course has grown into a grocery powerhouse. It expanded to Beloit in 1971 and in 1975 was the first grocery operator to use UPC scanners at its checkout counters. The company built a store on Milwaukee Street in Madison in 1979, added the West Side store in 1984 and a store in Sun Prairie in 2012, according to the company's website.

Woodman's on Milton Avenue

The original Woodman's grocery store at 922 Milton Ave. in Janesville. The store opened in 1921 and was expanded three times before an 11,000-square-foot store was constructed a few blocks away in 1956.

The company, which built a new corporate headquarters in Janesville in 2009, now has 19 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois, $2 billion in annual revenue with the average size of its stores clocking in at 230,000 square feet, almost 400 times the size of the original store.

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