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.”
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.”