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Fates Still Uncertain For Many Dominick’s Stores, As Shelves Grow Emptier

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Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) – The final days of Dominick’s stores are at hand, and that means big sales for customers.

Friday, customers were taking advantage of discounts of 75 percent.

But with the sales come questions about what happens to the stores that haven’t been purchased by competitors. Jewel bought four and Mariano’s purchased 11, but that leaves dozens more in the Chicago area that are not spoken for.

Shoppers like Carlita March know the bargains comes at a cost.

“Definitely disappointing to see a grocery store go in the neighborhood,” says March, who’d like to see a Whole Foods step in.

Whole Foods dodged the question if they’ll buy any Dominick’s stores, but recent reports say they’re interested in a couple of locations. Food for Less, owned by Kroger, hasn’t gotten back to CBS 2. Aldi said no; Jewel and Mariano’s indicated they’ve bought all they plan to buy.

Centrella is reportedly looking at 10 stores.

“Chicago is a number-one market. It’s the largest food market in the Midwest, so there is interest from a lot of different people,” says Ward 6 Ald. Leslie Hairston, who is losing a Dominick’s on 71st.

Supermarket analysts like David Livingston says potential buyers may opt to leave the Dominick’s buildings empty and start fresh.

“Sometimes it’s a lot easier to revive an area with a new store, rather than take the negative legacy of the old store,” he says.

Meanwhile, on Friday some loyal customers thanked employees at the Evanston’s Dominick’s for more than 50 years of service with a party.

A nearby florist donated bouquets. The Office Depot down the block comped a big “thank you” banner, which dozens of shoppers signed, many naming specific long-time employees.  There was live music.  Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Ald. Jane Grover even gave each employee a letter of recommendation.

Most of the baked goods were homemade, not off the shelves.  The apple juice and lemonade was from Trader Joe’s, but no one complained.

“It’s been joyous in so many ways because it’s been a chance for all of us to say thank you, that we love and appreciate you and thank you for taking care of us,” Grover said.  “At the same time, it’s just tinged with this sense of the Titanic going down.”

The store has been updated regularly, but Grover said it is in limbo, as are the majority of the remaining Dominick’s stores.  She said it was her understanding that Whole Foods expressed early interest but backed away.  Mariano’s found it to be too small.  Now, she said, she is hoping that Sunset Foods moves in.  But it won’t be the same.  And that, Grover said, is “tragic.”

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