Realizing I was once again out of milk and in need of some treats for a piano recital this week, I ran to the grocery store yesterday. It is the store I have been going to since I was 4. It is the store I have brought my own children to since they were babies. It is the store that has provided me flowers for sick friends, cakes for my kids’ birthdays and some of the nicest grocery store employees in the world.
But it is also the store that is going away.
Dominick’s has been an iconic Chicago area name for almost a hundred years. When my husband and I first moved away from the downtown area to the south side of the city, I was thrilled to abandon other options in favor of my time-tested Dominick’s. I loved the warm lighting, the wide aisles, and the deli counter ladies who gave my boys more free samples of cheese and meat than they could possibly eat. I loved how I could enter my phone number at checkout for rewards instead of getting chided by an angry cashier for forgetting my card (as would happen when I went to other grocery stores). I loved the memories of eating animal crackers in the cart while my mom shopped, and I loved the memories I gave my own children there.
So when I walked into Dominick’s yesterday, I felt an unexpected punch to the gut. Half the aisles were already cleared out. There was a tangible sadness in the air that was reflected in people’s eyes. This wasn’t just a store that was closing. This was a part of history. Whether the chain was mismanaged or neglected in favor of big-box stores can be debated another day. For that is not the issue right now.
The real issue is this is the end of something special. Something that meant a great deal to many Chicagoans.
One of the former CEOs of Dominick’s, Bob Mariano, has purchased several closing stores that will re-open as Mariano’s. Mr. Mariano was one of the visionaries who created that warm feel that always left me relaxed and happy, despite having shopped there with two toddlers and a baby just a few short years ago. I believe that my being relaxed helped relax my youngsters.
It was magic.
I would like to bid Dominick’s farewell and acknowledge its place in Chicago history.
You were a grand store. And I will not forget you.