Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Chicago’s Treasure Island; most of the Second City never had a clue about you

We often hear odes to how sad it is to see businesses close – particularly if they’re not a part of some large corporate entity or if they in any way try to cater to their specific neighborhoods.

Hyde Park store among those to soon be defunct
Yet let’s be honest, most of us will talk about loving such businesses and their personal touch, but we don’t really care to do anything to support such entities. We’ll go to wherever we can save a buck or two – which is why those places that sell goods in large volume can do so well.

AND BUSINESSES LIKE Treasure Island can claim to be a significant part of history, while having to concede they have no place in the modern world.

Now I’m sure many of you may think you’re lifelong Chicagoans who know everything there is to know about your home city. But you’re probably wondering, “What’s Treasure Island?” Either that, or you’re thinking it’s some old movie that you’ve never bothered to actually watch because it’s in black-and-white, but you might go see it if they’d do a re-make with modern sensibilities starring a Kardashian or two.

Actually, it was a supermarket. A chain, sort of – even though its peak was to have five stores in very select neighborhoods of Chicago.

Which means most of us would have had to make a special trip in order to shop in one of their stores, and most likely we never bothered to.

THE BEST I can do to describe a Treasure Island is to say it was a store that would stock not-so-common staples that would be needed for people interested in cooking some more exotic dishes for their meals.

It most definitely wasn’t Jewel (and I’m not badmouthing Jewel, I live near one and wind up purchasing many grocery items there because of its convenience).

In fact, when Whole Foods began opening their stores throughout the Chicago area, I remember explaining the concept of them to people as being something similar to Treasure Island.

It was actually a book first
Only Whole Foods has gone on an expansion that has caused them to locate in the Englewood neighborhood. A place you’d never have found a Treasure Island store.

IN MY OWN case, I have been in the Hyde Park neighborhood store on a few occasions, and on occasion in their former location on Clark Street (which the last time I happened to walk by I discovered is now a Potash Brothers grocery store). Their other locations that I never managed to patronize were in the Old Town, Lake View and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.

As you can see, they’re pretty much a North Lakefront type entity – with the exception of that Hyde Park location that tries to cater to the segment of Chicago that is in the city because of the University of Chicago and wants to reassert the notion that they're NOT typical South Side Chicago!

Not exactly a place a Sout’ Sider would easily access – particularly since I’m sure he/she would have his/her own specialty shops to access on those occasions they want to purchase select foodstuffs.

Many of which, I suspect, would be of a specific ethnic persuasion.

WHILE RELYING ON the larger-scale stores for the daily supplies of keeping ourselves fed on a regular basis. And in this 21st Century world, some of us are turning more and more to those businesses that allow us to go on-line to place our grocery orders – and have someone deliver our supplies right to our front doors.

You want to know why a Treasure Island will no longer exist following a couple of weeks from now, it’s mostly because I suspect that the kind of people who would have made the trip to one of these stores are now thinking it more convenient (if not downright trendy) to place a grocery order without having to actually go shopping.
Will we ever miss 'da Jewels' the way some will yearn for Treasure Island?
As for those specialty items that a Treasure Island might have stocked, I suppose I’ll be inclined to hunt down a Whole Foods store (there’s one not far from where I’m living these days) to make those purchases. Although I’ll be honest – I suspect I can get through life without many of those goods.

Treasure Island was evidence of the kind of people many of us would like to think Chicago is all about; when in reality, we’re more than willing to go do “Da Jewels” – with an occasional stop at a neighborhood Aldi’s to get an even better price.


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