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Rogers Park Indie Grocers Welcome Ex-Dominick's Customers, Business Booms

By Benjamin Woodard | January 29, 2014 9:03am
 Morse Market, Devon Market, Clark St. Market and more saw an uptick in business during past month.
Rogers Park Indie Grocers
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ROGERS PARK — Many of the neighborhood's independent grocers — like Morse Market, Devon Market and Clark St. Market — have seen an increase in business since the demise of Dominick's last month, market owners said.

But the uptick might not last for long.

"It'll be fun while it lasts," said Angelo Palivos, 36, the owner of Clark St. Market, at 7007 N. Clark St.

He said he's enjoying a "bump" in business since Safeway Inc. pulled out of the Chicago market, closing its 72 Dominick's grocery stores a few days after Christmas.

However, Palivos said, "other grocery stores are coming."

That includes Cermak Fresh Market, which announced earlier this month that it would be taking over the shuttered Dominick's nearby at 6623 N. Damen Ave. (Coincidentally, Palivos said, Cermak is a family business; his uncle runs the chain and he had been a district manager before opening his own store).

Zak Segev, co-owner of Devon Market, said his store had been "definitely busier," estimating a 20 percent increase in sales.

"The increase in business we’ve got are Dominick’s shoppers that were probably never in my store [before]," Segev said.

And he hopes to retain those customers even if two other nearby former Dominick's — at the Gateway Shopping Centre on Howard Street and on North Broadway in Edgewater — are taken over by the competition, he said.

"[It] is causing us to work a little bit harder and be better in different areas that were weak, and try to keep the business over here," he said.

One of the owners of Morse Market, Peter Kostopoulos, said he'd "noticed an increase in business" this month, but wasn't sure how much of it was because of Dominick's closure.

"It was hard to ascertain because we also had weather issues," he said. "People will come in and buy a lot of products when they know it’ll be frigid like this week."

If business stays strong as the weather warms, Kostopoulos said, he plans to hire more workers to keep up.

Rogers Park Fruit Market Owner Nick Christopoulos echoed the sentiments of his neighborhood competition.

"Business has increased," he said. But, "not much, just a little a bit."

Christopoulos, who opened his store 41 years ago at the corner of Clark Street Rogers Avenue, said he wasn't worried about the bigger grocery chains.

"Big supermarkets, they have different costumers," he said, describing his store as personal and private. "It makes a big difference. It’s not the same."

Paulina Certified is a small grocer north of Howard Street, about a block from the former Dominick's at Gateway.

Neighborhood resident Theresa Cope said she's been shopping more at the store after Dominick's closed — even though she prefers to shop at larger supermarkets.

Anna Chuberkis, who was shopping for vegetables Tuesday at Devon Market, exclaimed, "Oh, I miss Dominick's!" when asked about her recent shopping habits.

She especially "misses the sales."

But others, like Ron Haynes, 50, a musician, said he hasn't changed his shopping habits much at all.

"We always come to the neighborhood grocer," he said. "The neighborhood store is always here."