Thursday, October 10, 2013

EXTRA: Jewel vs. Dominick’s – another great Chicago debate terminates

Only the clocks remain from Field's. What will survive from Dominick's? Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

Probably the biggest retail competition in Chicago history was that of Marshall Field’s versus Carson, Pirie, Scott.

There used to be people who would seriously argue (sometimes as vociferously as if the subject matter was Sox versus Cubs) as to which store was better – both at their main locations on State Street and at their other assorted stores throughout the Chicago area.

TECHNICALLY, CARSONS WON that war. Field’s was bought out and converted to give Macy’s a presence in Chicago. Although the old flagship store for Carsons isn’t a a Carsons any longer.

But to those of us who grew up in Chicago in recent years and were just looking for something to bicker about, there was another fight we could fix over.

Best supermarket – Jewel’s or Dominick’s? Personally, I always shopped at whichever one was closest to where I lived at the time – although I became a little more loyal to Jewel during the stint I lived in Springfield, Ill., and it was a choice of a Chicago-oriented supermarket or the more St. Louis-leaning Schnuck’s.

In the big picture, it seems that Jewel’s will win the supermarket war, since the Jewel/Osco brand remains (although many people think it has deteriorated to the point where they prefer buying their groceries at a Wal-mart store, just a few aisles over from the underwear section).

Will its memory be mourned?
THINK I’M KIDDING? The Chicago Tribune reported that Jewel these days has 29.1 percent market share in the Chicago area, compared to only 8.7 percent. Dominick’s literally is lagging behind Wal-mart, which is at a 9.4 percent share and growing.

All of which is what motivated Safeway officials to say Thursday that they’re pulling out of the Chicago market. Which was the only place they used the Dominick’s brand-name.

By early next year, there won’t be any more Dominick’s stores. They will be big, empty storefronts – many of which might sit there for years as blots on their respective neighborhoods/suburban communities.

Da winner, but still champeen?
A fortunate few will get a new life. Although I find it funny that the owner of Jewel/Osco (the oft-maligned Albertson’s) has already reached an agreement to buy four Dominick’s sites to convert them to a Jewel.

WHICH I’M SURE to those people who remained devoted Dominick’s customers to the end will feel like some sort of betrayal – walking into the Dominick’s on Clybourn Avenue or Canal Street only to discover it a part of, “da Jewels.”

Definitely the days when Jewel and Dominick’s provided about two-thirds of the grocery market share for the Chicago metro area are a thing of the past!

Perhaps it’s just a thing of the past to have a general purpose supermarket, as it seems people either like to split between shopping at a store that offers up high-end or scarce foodstuffs – or one that purports to offer convenience in being able to buy groceries while also shopping for clothes or a new set of tires for the car.

The 21st Century take on the grocery rivalry seems to be something along the lines of Whole Foods versus Wal-Mart (too bad we can't go Kroger-ing in Chicago like I did when I was in college in Bloomington, Ill.). Which definitely means something has been lost if we can no longer quarrel over Dominick’s versus Jewel.


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