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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lost Businesses in E-Town

We lost five retail establishments in Evanston IL in the past two days.  A fire destroyed three businesses on Davis Street at Oak.  The Pine Yard Chinese restaurant, Technicolor Nail Salon and Taco Diablo are shut, perhaps forever.  Taco Diablo inhabited the space previously occupied by Bill's Blues Bar, a venue that I loved (see this entry, and also this entry, for more on BBB).  The Pine Yard has been operating in Evanston for over 35 years.  The other two lost retail establishments were the two Dominick's stores in town, which closed when Safeway pulled the plug on its effort to profitably serve the Chicago area grocery market.  Dominick's market share dropped by 66% in about 10 years.  Safeway threw in the towel.

Retail shops and grocery stores are very important to a community.  The act of buying something from local people in a local shop strengthens the bonds in a community.  Commercial transactions are amazing examples of everyday trust. 

I was a regular customer of one of the Dominick's stores that closed.  I know the layout of the place and could whip through my grocery shopping quickly.  I knew the staff. They were dependable, decent folk who are now out of work.  I am a businessman and realize that reality cannot be denied - no profit means the end for a commercial enterprise.  The rise of Aldi's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Walmart/Sam's Club, Food For Less and other players made the market too tough for Safeway.  Safeway's mistakes made a bad situation worse.  In spite of the inevitability of this failure, I feel bad that "my store" closed and honest, hard-working people will suffer through no fault of their own.

The three small businesses may have insurance and may rise again.  I sure hope so.  The Pine Yard in particular is an Evanston institution.  The owners of these places are classic small business people, creating local jobs through solid service businesses.  They keep our communities vital. 

It will not be a happy New Year for these closed businesses and the people that work in them.

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