At 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, the pickings were slim at Schwartz Market. Many of the shelves were bare, and the small produce section was scarcely stocked -- a few potatoes and a lone bundle of bananas were among the remaining items for sale at the South Side grocer.
"In the last five years, it's been like trying to walk up an escalator that's coming down," says Martin Dorfner, who plans to close East Carson Street market he's owned for the last 25 years. "There's no business."
Dorfner blames the neighborhood's changing demographics. "There are no longer families on the South Side," he laments. "The younger people in this area don't cook a meal."
Schwartz Market, which has operated for more than seven decades, is expected to close early this month -- or whenever all of the store's merchandise is gone.
As for the future of the building that houses it, "It's going to be an empty space when we move out," says Dorfner. But, he adds, "The landlord has a vision."
In fact, as City Paper reported last May, building owner Elisa Beck has plans to transform the store into a natural-food co-op, along the lines of the East End Food Co-op, where co-op members own the store they shop in. Beck says it's still unclear whether the new store will be structured as a co-op. But in any case, she assures, "We know we want food -- food that is raw, organic and local."
For updates on the building's future, check out www.1317eastcarson.blogspot.com.