UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A Dominick's set to close at the end of the month saw people lining up as early as 6 a.m. Friday, and lines surging throughout the weekend as shoppers stocked up on discounted toothpaste, shampoo, household goods and school supplies.
"We've been super busy. You've got your bargain shoppers coming in. They're shopping it pretty hard," a worker said Monday.
To handle the crowds during its three-week closing sale, a manager of the Dominick's at 2021 W. Chicago Ave. said that the store had brought in about 10 percent to 15 percent more staff.
Last Friday, several categories of items such as household goods, school supplies and personal hygiene and beauty products were priced 50 percent off.
This Friday, all food and grocery items will go on sale at half off, followed by liquor being reduced to 50 percent on Dec. 20.
"The reality check is seeing the aisles become empty," said a 15-year Dominick's worker who wished not to be named, adding that there were tears in many of her fellow employee's eyes as they watched "people come out of the woodwork" and pick the aisles clean.
"Aisle 7, everything is gone," the worker said, referring to an aisle that primarily offers toothpaste and shampoo that had just a few items remaining in it by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Resident Suzi Wahl and her husband were among the several hundred people in the store Sunday.
Wahl said she purchased more than usual for a Sunday.
"[A worker] told me about some cheese on sale, and then my husband went back later and bought about $30 [worth] of Cliff bars, so the sales are getting better as time goes on," Wahl said.
The store is one of three area Dominick's that will be converted into Mariano's Fresh Markets, it was announced last week.
Wahl, who lives across the street from the grocery store and is a frequent shopper there, said, "The employees are really hopeful about Mariano's, and as a customer, I can feel that positive energy. I think we are all hopeful it will be even better than Dominick's."
Though several Dominick's employees said they plan to reapply for their jobs with Mariano's, and one worker said he believes he will make $1.50 more with Mariano's if he keeps his job, others will be retiring or looking for new jobs.
Jo Anne Hanson, a bookkeeper, has worked at Dominick's for 40 years, and was one of the employees when the store opened on Sept 27, 2007.
Hanson, 56, said she plans to look for a new job when the store closes at the end of the month.
"For me to stay, it would be a huge cut in pay. This job was my passion. I don't know if can be as passionate for another company, but if I had to work for another company, it would be Mariano's."
She said Bob Mariano, the owner of the chain and a former Dominick's executive, "understands you have to cater to each community and bring in what that community wants."
As for the sale, Hanson said, "It's sad, but it's a great deal. The bargains are too great to pass up. "