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Market Place for Sale: Owner 'Just Can't Compete'

The Lincoln Park independent grocery store’s owner says it’s hard to compete with Trader Joe’s Walmart, as well as the upcoming Walgreens, so he's putting The Market Place up for sale.

Independent grocery store The Market Place is up for sale after national food retailers like Trader Joe’s, Walmart and the upcoming Walgreens moved in just blocks away, the store’s owner confirms.

Peter Stellas, the grandson of the grocery store’s founder, says he started seriously considering the sale about six months ago when news about North Broadway’s Walmart Neighborhood Market broke. The controversial store is what Stellas cites as the final straw.

“I told Alderman Tunney that Walmart is going to [expletive] rape the neighborhood,” Stellas said. “… Since the Walmart opened, it’s absolutely had an effect on my decision.”

Located in Lincoln Park at 521 W. Diversey Pkwy, the grocery store could be sold in a multitude of ways, Stellas says. While The Market Place is on the market, he’s still not sure whether he’ll sell the almost 13,000-square-foot parking lot or the nearly 17,000-square-foot store as one deal or independently.

Leasing the storefront out to a new tenant is also an option.

The deal will have to be right, Stellas says, meaning if the right proposal doesn’t come along, The Market Place will remain open. And that might be good news for neighbors searching for a “full service” grocery store.

"We were on a comeback from Trader Joe’s opening, but with Walmart and now Walgreens coming in, we just can’t compete. … Seriously, those stores suck."

While Trader Joe’s, Walmart and the new flagship Walgreens—slated to open around Labor Day—all sell groceries, Stellas points out their flaws. The Market Place is the only store with a traditional deli where meat is prepared fresh daily, and it’s the only place offering gourmet pre-prepared food.

But with neighbors and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) still hoping for a Mariano’s Fresh Market at 3030 N. Broadway, locally owned stores like The Market Place may on its last leg.

“Walmart is not a full service grocery store, so I think this just confirms that the Mariano’s development is still going to be a need for the neighborhood,” Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Director Maureen Martino said. “We certainly still have Treasure Island that’s locally owned.”

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Stellas, who’s managed the grocery store since 1984, says he’s always entertained the option to sell The Market Place, but with the onslaught of new, big-box competitors, he can’t compete. He said he’s hoping neighbors will make the choice to shop local, effectively keeping the store alive.

“We’re the oldest independent grocery store in Chicago,” Stellas said. “We’ve been in business since 1927, before Treasure Island. We were on a comeback from Trader Joe’s opening, but with Walmart and now Walgreens coming in, we just can’t compete. … Seriously, those stores suck.”

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Boystown Barry February 23, 2013 at 04:04 PM
One person who these concerns should be raised to is Tom Mars, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, Walmart U.S. who in June 2011 stated: "“There is no venue that presents a better opportunity for us than Chicago," Mars said, according to the Center Square Journal. "[T]his is not the first urban market that we have entered, or pretended to enter, but it is a critically important one to us and we are absolutely committed to doing it right." Full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/wal-mart-exec-outlines-re_n_886118.html Note: I did try to search for contact information for Wal-Mart's Chicago Market Manager Jack Williams but that is not available. Those wishing to contact Wal-Mart corporate customer service, For reference: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Customer Relations 702 SW Eighth St. Bentonville, AR 72716-0117 Phone: 501-273-4000 Toll free: 1-800-925-6278 Fax: 501-621-2063 e-mail: letters@wal-mart.com
Alan Spaeth February 25, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I recently moved very close to the Market Place. I cringed when I heard that Wal-Mart was moving into the neighborhood. To be honest the Market Place is so outdated with the inventory, the check out process, and the cleanliness of the store. The prices are also outrageous. If I don't feel like hoofing it down to Trader Joe's (which is great), I will go the extra block to the Wal-Mart. I would happily support a local small owned business (I am a small business owner), but they have to meet me half way and be a good small business. You can't realistically expect to stay in business because people feel sorry for you?
Deno Jeffries February 27, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Yes, you may pay a bit more for a box of cereal at Market Place, but try to buy a specialty product, fresh fish, or butcher meats at Walmart. You'll be sad for the loss of Market Place. Big boxes and the internet may save you a buck or two, but they cost you so much more.
Rudolph Bliefernick March 14, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Would the term "AmeriKKKa" offend you, David?
Felix Nicklebum March 21, 2013 at 05:31 PM
when Peter Stellas chose to demean me and challenge my "knowledge" of produce when I opined that they buy off-grade produce for their sale items, that's when I knew I would never go back, unless it was to purchase their "loss leaders". Although Walmart probably doesnt have the personal service that the indi grocers have, they probably don't have the poor attitude toward their customers that I had experienced several times at Market Place.

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