WICKER PARK — Less than two years after it opened, a small convenience store specializing in high-end organic foods and fresh juices has shuttered its doors.
"We tried, we pushed," said Syed Azhar, owner of BuckWick Organix at 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Adding to a rash of early 2013 closures that have hit Milwaukee Avenue bars especially hard, the grocer went dark Thursday with not even a sign notifying customers of its departure.
By Monday, most of the fresh produce was cleared from shelves, with just a crop of dehydrated wheat grass in the window, next to the juicing counter.
Syed Wasif, 52, owns Wicker Park Food Mart at 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave., across the street from Buckwick Organix.
Wasif speculated his neighbor's abrupt closure might have been due to the new Walgreens at 1601 N. Milwaukee Ave., which opened just before Thanksgiving and is one half block north.
In December, Wasif told DNAinfo Chicago that sales at his food mart were down by 30-percent in the first few weeks that Walgreens opened. On Monday he said the competition has continued to eat at his profits, and "looks like down 50 percent."
Reached by phone, Azhar said BuckWick Organix's closure "had nothing to do with Walgreens" and was due to the fact he was unable to change his business model from offering high-end specific items to a cheaper, general grocery model.
"People love quick shop convenience, so they don't want to stand in line at Walgreens. People want general grocery. We were only exclusive high end and did not want to compete with our neighbor [Wicker Park Food Mart] and will have to come up with a new idea," Azhar said.
Since he has a 13-year lease, Azhar must either bring a new concept into the space, which he is currently considering, or find a subleaser.
The businessman said he's putting out an asking call for $12,000 monthly rent for a subleaser.
"It's a great location, a hotspot," Azhar said.
Anyone interested in subleasing the space can call Azhar directly at 312-623-5301.