MOUNT GREENWOOD — The line at the deli counter of Family Pride Finer Foods was long on Wednesday and so were the faces.
The small grocery store at 10601 S. Pulaski Road in Mount Greenwood told employees on Monday that the store would soon close.
"It's just the competition — competition with Jewel. I have five Jewels within a 2-mile radius, not to mention Pete's Fresh Market and Mariano's," said Bob Marthaler, who's owned the store for the last 16 years.
He expects the store to close for good in about three weeks. Discounts will start on Wednesday, as the store must be cleared out according to terms reached with the property buyer, Marthaler said.
He said he didn't know what sort of business would be taking over the building that he estimated has operated as a grocery store for more than five decades, but he did not believe it would remain a supermarket.
Most of Family Pride's 35 employees were informed of the decision Monday.
Gordon Pavich started working as a stock boy in May after moving to Mount Greenwood from Arizona. He learned he'd soon be out of a job on Tuesday.
"I feel bad for the people that have been here for 12 years," Pavich said.
Shoppers like Jo McWilliams, of Mount Greenwood, also were disappointed by the news. She visits the nearby Family Pride about twice a week, she said.
"I go out of my way to come here," McWilliams said. "There's nobody that has got lunchmeat like this store."
She said she preferred the small layout of Family Pride to that of larger grocery stores, saying the eight aisles at the Mount Greenwood grocery store had everything she needed.
Marthaler said that doing business in Chicago was difficult, particularly considering Family Pride competes with suburban stores. Plastic bag restrictions, minimum wage increases and bottled water taxes all put his business at a disadvantage, he said.
Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) worked with Family Pride to help navigate those challenges. But in the end, the latest round of price cuts by Jewel-Osco combined with an influx of competition doomed the grocer, Marthaler said.
"The pie is not getting any bigger," he said.
Mary Cummings of neighboring Oak Lawn shopped at Family Pride about once a week. She was drawn to the modest grocery store because of its competitive prices.
"I hate to hear it's closing," Cummings said.
Throughout the week, Marthaler has been hearing from similar customers saddened by the news.
"I have had so many people call and tell me, 'Say it isn't true,'" he said. "It's heartwarming."
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