Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fallow Fields For Fresh Harvest Market?

We had such high hopes for the Fresh Harvest Market when it opened two years ago, but we wonder if we'll ever be able to shop there again.  A reader sent in this photo and notes, as several readers have, that "The ever-struggling Fresh Harvest Market (4650 North Sheridan) is apparently closed for unspecified repairs."

Update:  A reader reports that the signs on the doors now read, simply, "Close" - no longer "Close for Repairs."  Very sad.

33 comments:

  1. I've been watching this store dwindle for the last year and half. Product selection has decreased and the shelves have looked bare for some time. In an area heavily saturated by inexpensive convenience store packaged goods, I always felt that they should have focused on more fresh & specialty items, akin to what one might find at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

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  2. I would of loved to check this place out but this area is just FLAT OUT UNSAFE for families. Driving by this area alone gives me the chills, I sure as hell don't make it a point to stop with my family and shop.

    Kudos to the owners for trying but you could stock the shelves with gold bullion but if the area is not safe nobody will shop there. Same reason families hike it all the way over to Chase Park as apposed to playing at Bronco Billy. Safety First.

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  3. I talked to the owner earlier this month who assured me that they were going to make significant improvements and rehabs in the coming weeks, so maybe the note is legit? Here's hoping...

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  4. Chip -- Disagree entirely. I walk that area all the time. This is off of Leland, where, save for the brawls that have happened on occasion after school, is safe by Uptown standards.

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  5. I will def go and try and support this store, especially if significant improvements are made. @Chipdouglas, if simply driving down sheridan past this store gives you the chills, I can't imagine how you'd feel walking about my neighborhood on hazel and sunnyside. Unless there is an actually melee going down, what would give you the chills? The site of people that look and dress differently than you?

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  6. I live less than a half a block away on Leland. I am deeply saddened to read that this is area is perceived to be "FLAT OUT UNSAFE for families" I have a family including an infant. My next door neighbor has a child of 9. My upstairs neighbor has a 1 1/2 year old. The other upstairs neighbor has an 11 year old. While I am not denying there are problems they are no more pronounced at Fresh Market than they are in a 6-8 block radius from us. I make it a point to walk the streets including Sheridan by Fresh Market because I love my city and I believe visibility is a deterrent. I like to think that my home is an investment in the community along with the property value, and to make that investment grow I need to learn, re-think and plan. One way is to be in touch with the street and at least for me that has given me insight into the difference between a troubled person and a troublemaker. Thank you for providing this excellent blog.

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  7. This area is safe? It didn't seem to safe for the side of Anthony Pittman's head when that bullet tore it apart. Yes that vision is WHY this area gives me the creeps. Always will, and I am sure I am not alone.

    I live in the HEART of the Black P Stones shooting range, and have seen people shot, DEAD. Yes, I am sorry to offend you fine folks who made the choice to live over there, but I stand by what I said. I have my own problems in my neck of the hood of Uptown, I don't need to venture out to others.

    And ChiTownPhilly you can cut the crap about "The site of people that look and dress differently than you?" What are you Helen Shiller?

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  8. Chip lives near the Sunnyside Mall, and has posted about neighborhood kids running to him (a dad) for safety when bullets ring out near the playground. So if you're thinking he has any kind of prejudice against "people who don't look and dress like him" or that he cowers in fear of going out of his house, you're wrong. Chip's pretty much living on one of Uptown's front lines.

    The manager of Fresh Harvest has told me several times how his plans for an outside cafe were scuttled by the street violence that has happened for the past two summers right in front of his store. He told me that he just locks the front doors when thugs start running around with pickaxes, baseball bats and tire irons, and hopes they don't smash his windows.

    NOT an ideal place to have a successful business, particularly one that depends on pedestrian traffic and the old folks' home across the street.

    We need safe streets. Then the businesses will come.

    I like eklass's vision for it, as a destination spot for items you can't find anywhere else locally. I hope Fresh Harvest Market does indeed have a second act planned.

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  9. i know that chip is a good neighbor in his neck of the woods, but honestly, this area is only bad after Uplift lets out. a block north and a block south are different stories.

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  10. As eklass said, there is a market niche available for them, and I do like their store. I hope they are able to reopen better than ever. We need these sorts of local businesses.

    As for its location, the surrounding block is pretty typical for Uptown, IMO.

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  11. The death blow was dealt by economy and Target. \

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  12. I've been in this place, and frankly, I was a little disappointed. The area did not bother me.

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  13. The last time this place showed any promise was the day it opened in my book. On multiple separate occasions, I had negative experiences. These primarily include lackluster (and in some cases bad/rotten) produce, and poor customer service.

    With a name like "fresh harvest" having and maintaining fresh produce is something that i would expect when i walk through the door.

    Customer service is another issue. What really got to me was their stance on coupons. I haven't been back in quite a while, so they may have a posted policy, but on multiple occasions I was told that the "machine was down" and they couldn't take my coupons. One one occasion, I was told that the "discount was included in the price". On that occasion, I witnessed one of the managers going to the refrigerator case and pulling the hot pink coupons off the remaining inventory. That was the day that I decided that they were playing games. It is no different than the cab drivers who pretend their credit card machine is broken.

    Fresh produce can be written off as a bad day or week. Game playing and being deceptive are no way to earn my continued business.

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  14. I walked to "FH" 50+ times with my son and never had one bad thing happen around us or the store. Things happen everywhere in Uptown. I shopped here until they stopped stocking the shelves. I hope they come back stronger. Uptown needs them. Good luck.

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  15. I am with Andy G. on this one. Bad service, register down, didn't like the vibe.

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  16. I live close to the market and have been a loyal customer from their opening until the doors closed. They were not perfect, but what do you expect in a struggling neighborhood? My observation was that things slowed down right after Target opened. Everyone wanted a Target, to improve the neighborhood, but unfortunately what happens is they put small businesses under when the small business can't compete with the price and selection of a "big box". I will be very disappointed if FH closes for good; I loved having a small market in the neighborhood.

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  17. Hey - I'm with Chip Douglas on this. I've wanted to go to Fresh Harvest for a couple years now, and every time I think about stopping, there are various guys hanging out/ gangbangers/ drunk/ troublemaker-looking types loitering and I literally park the car, think about getting out, feel fear and nervousness, and start the car back up and leave. Had the same thing happen to me on more than one Sunday when I wanted to have brunch at Big Chicks/Tweet. That area makes me feel totally uneasy and unsafe, and I follow my instinct and split, and head up to Lincoln Square or to Boystown. I've lived in Uptown for nine years.

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  18. Jason, you agree with everyone except for me?! :)

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  19. I went here when I was super-desperate and didn't want to wait for the bus to Jewel on Montrose/or Berwyn/Broadway. Pop was overpriced, everything was overpriced.

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  20. the market on the corner of sheridan and wilson often has better produce (and prices) than "Fresh" Harvest.

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  21. Chip, you live in the heart of the pstones hood but your afraid to go to fresh market on sheridan? No, you give me a break. That statement is laughable. Almost as laughable as you calling me helen schiller.

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  22. I spoke with the guy running the store. They're reorganizing the store, moving refrigerators around and doing improvements to the store. It's a nice store when it's stocked, so hopefully they get back up and running soon.

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  23. L Train,

    You think the area by Tweet is bad during brunch? There's a lot of people that don't feel that way, judging by the amount of people there every weekend.

    Plus the place across the street is closed now.

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  24. L train - Really? you are afraid to go to Big CHicks/Tweet?? that is outrageous have you ever been there on a weekend morning? It is packed and in the summer when there is outdoor seating you can barely get a table. They without a doubt have the best breakfast in Uptown, fresh, delicious, moderately priced, only downfall is cash only. But really stop being a baby that is around the nicest area of uptown (in between Lawarence and Foster). If you are afraid to go there, it may be time to pick a different neighborhood.

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  25. And for the people claiming Target is putting them out of business I could not disagree more. When i first went to FH, I was very surprised they had a nice coffee section, with desserts, and gelato, solid produce, fully stocked shelves and a lot of samples (a definite crowd pleaser). So I continued to go because the new Dominicks had not opened and the Jewel on Montrose is disgusting, but every time i went something disappeared, first coffee/desserts then produce quality, and then unstocked shelves, it became a waste of time.

    Anyways I am sure Dominicks re-opening had far more to do with it then Target.

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  26. As Chris said, the owners are very aware about the impact that Target/Domenick's has had on their business, and have been planning on restructuring their store since before the new year. Since many people (myself included) have come to rely on them for quick staples and produce, I'm sure it has been hard for them to balance their desire to stay open and provide for their community, and close in order to improve their business.

    I've never had an issue with service, though they have had to layoff most of their staff with the impending restructure. I hope to see all of their smiling faces again when they reopen!

    When I spoke with the owners last, they expressed their intention to focus as more of an ethinic/specialty market, and plan to reopen at the beginning of April.

    This market was a main factor that prompted my husband and I to move into this neighborhood almost a year ago, and I hope you all will continue to support it when it reopens.

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  27. Anna -- agreed 100%. I have consistently supported - and loved - this place. Has anyone tried to contact the store to see if they plan to reopen?

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  28. A lot of talk by Aldermanic candidates about community safety, new retail opportunities, etc. But the one thing we can't forget is that failed operating models are also to blame - in the case of Borders, its tendency to be a neighborhood "library" party led to its downfall - I've personally observed people reading books they hadn't purchased (one guy even brought snacks and was seated on 2nd floor for what seemed like forever, nowhere near the registers); in the case of Fresh Harvest, you can clearly cite poor inventory control, mismanagement (I've personally seen loud arguments between the butcher and store manager, no staffing at some counters, etc), poor marketing (only ONE mailer sent to area residents?), etc. This place could have been a much needed high-end grocer and experienced rapid growth, but it quickly became essentially just another convenience store.

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  29. Meg,

    I thought it was understood that I agree with everything you post, even the stuff I don't agree with... ;-)

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  30. Enough already with the insults. Whaddya think this is, the Sun-Times? ;-)

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  31. Drove by yesterday, saw lights on and "Closed for Repairs" signs gone.

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  32. When I walked past there yesterday, the signs on the doors said "Close," not "Close for Repairs." Not feeling good about this.

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