By Sarah Corbin
Gus is gone.
Maybe someone knows the answer as to why Oak Park Food Mart closed its doors, but there isn't a note.
First the buzz around our offices was that Gus, the manager/owner of the food market had jury duty. The common response to that guess was, "But you would think his brother would fill in for him right?" After a full week went by, it started to settle in: The Oak Park Food Mart had closed.
Closing a business is tricky business. I have watched over the past few years as different businesses closed in different ways. Some owners leave slightly bitter and loudly. Those folks didn't want to close. They blame the economy, the community, and themselves.
Some business owners are just ready to move on to something else. In a standard "corporatish" job people get to move up, move on pretty regularly without question. But when you want to leave your own business many of your customers look at you with pity eyes and say, "Just couldn't swing it huh?" When in reality as a business owner you just wanted to try out something new.
I think most people understand that owning a business, running a retail store front, running an office isn't easy. Being an owner of a business can be draining & energizing at the same time. Making that final decision to pull the plug is extremely hard. But no matter how hard, I think it's important to take a minute to say goodbye.
The fruit is still in the window. We look everyday to see if the interior of the food market has changed. This is a whole building of folks that relied on the Oak Park Food Mart for little convenience items. When the Laundromat was across the street, there were a lot more of us that relied on the market for little convenience items. And we all got to know Gus because of it. A couple of weeks ago Gus closed the store for a couple of hours to help out one of his older customers who had been evicted. Her belongings were in front of her building and he closed his doors to help her load some things into her car, and a cab. That's a kind thing to do. It's the kind of thing communities rely on small business owners to do.
We appreciate the years of service Gus. We do. And we wish you good luck in whatever endeavor is calling you.