The fate of the 72 Dominicks stores in the Chicago area has been uncertain since Safeway announced it was leaving the Chicago market back in October. It’s becoming clearer now. Jewel will buy a few stores. Whole Foods will buy a few stores. With the announcement that Mariano’s will purchase another eleven stores, the picture is becoming more complete. Roughly half of the stores will close and the other half will continue operations under other names.
Neither of the two Dominicks stores nearest to me are on anybody’s buy list so I guess they will close. I used to be a regular Dominicks shopper. However, when Safeway purchased Dominicks from Fisher Foods fifteen years ago, the quality dropped immediately while prices rose. When the Dominicks employees went on strike against the new owners it was the last straw for me. I moved my custom to a small, local store, Happy Foods, and I’ve never looked back. The selection is great, the quality is high, and the prices are lower than when I was shopping at a major chain. Now I set foot in a Dominicks store perhaps two or three times a year.
The acquisition of Dominicks stores by Mariano’s is an instance of coming full circle. IIRC Bob Mariano was the CEO of Fisher Foods when it was acquired by Safeway and the ideas he was implementing in the Dominicks Fresh Stores have reached full flower in his Mariano’s chain. There’s a Mariano’s about ten blocks from me. I go there occasionally but I remain loyal to my beloved Happy Foods.
Mariano’s is a good store, very reminiscent of the Dierberg’s chain in St. Louis. As I think I’ve written before I’m not certain there’s really a niche for Mariano’s here in Chicago, positioning itself as it does somewhere between Whole Foods and Jewel. From a merchanising standpont the layout of my nearby Mariano’s store is awful.
With the shuttering of Dominicks Jewel’s consolidation of the Chicago market will be nearly complete. I suspect that most Chicago are customers will transfer their custom to Jewel or Walmart. With the city of Chicago and Walmart’s mutual aversion that will leave city-dwellers in the lurch even more than they are now. There are a number of Dominicks stores on the South and Southeast sides and my guess is those are the stores most likely to close.