frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,
frenchpony
frenchpony

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Goodbye, Co-Op!

The major supermarket in Hyde Park is the Co-Op, a Beloved Neighborhood Institution. Beloved by some people, that is, for its Depression-era, mildly socialist roots. Not beloved by lots of other people, for its poor service, terrible business practices, and sometimes weird product selection. They went through some unfortunate business ventures -- I won't bore you with details, but suffice it to say that they are over a million dollars in debt, without a really clear plan for getting out of debt.

The University offered to buy out their lease, on the condition that they don't let the door hit them in the ass on the way out of Hyde Park. There were several weeks of tortured neighborhood debate, none of which really touched on what I see as a major issue. Hyde Park, on the (heavily African-American) South Side, has aspects of an urban food desert -- there are relatively few grocery stores for the population size. The Co-Op is the only major supermarket in the neighborhood. We've got Village Foods, which is small and will do in a pinch, and Hyde Park Produce, which is good for produce (durr!) and a few specialty items, so we're better off than some South Side neighborhoods. But when the Co-Op closes, that's a major deal.

Well, I learned last night at singing that the vote finally came in. The Co-Op will close, effective about twelve days from now. I went shopping today, and they'd already started to shut down. The produce section was almost cleaned out, and one bank of fruit stands was completely gone! I have to say, it was quite a surprise to see things moving so quickly. In theory, the deal with the University states that another store has to occupy the space within two weeks. If this is realistic, then I am Marie of Romania. There's still no word on what might move in when the Co-Op is gone. But I hear also that Hyde Park Produce awaits only a health inspection before moving itself into a bigger and more convenient (for me) location.

A location, I might add, that used to have a branch of the Co-Op, run at a major financial loss for many years before they gave it up. How the worm do turn . . . .
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