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Pete's Fresh Market 'Going Back to Its Roots' With Oak Park Store

Roughly 20 years ago, one of the earliest Pete’s Fresh Market stores opened near Oak Park at North and Central avenues. 

Started by a man who would sell produce from a stand in Chicago, the business has far passed its status of a small operation, with nine stores in the area and more to come after Safeway's sudden exit from the Chicago market.

In a way, after years of growth and lessons learned, Pete’s is "going back to its roots" with its newest store in Oak Park, said Stephanie Dremonas, Pete’s Fresh Market executive officer.

Pete’s announced earlier this month it was in negotiations to purchase the former Dominick’s property at 259 Lake St. in Oak Park. Dremonas said Tuesday the company has officially closed the deal and, barring any setbacks, should open by the end of 2014.

Originally a produce-focused business, Pete’s prides itself on its hand-picked products that go through a vetting process handled by the experts, Dremonas said. “(We’re) family owned (and operated), so we have a certain touch that’s familiar… and community based,” she said. “(We) keep every store’s identity similar to the identity of the community.”

With so many shuttered Dominick’s stores in the Chicago area—72, to be exact—the growing company could have chosen any location for its newest store.

But Oak Park was the winner.

“Oak Park is a very diverse (and very dense) neighborhood… allowing us to really service many different kinds of trades—from ethnic… to socio-economic… it’s fun for us to be able to cater to a wide variety of people… That’s what Oak Park had, aside from everyone else,” Dremonas said.

She said the Dominick’s exit has left a few opportunities for Pete’s, but that she couldn’t confirm any other new locations. She said Pete’s could bring anywhere from 100 to 125 jobs to the village. 

“We’ve been supported by the village… The community has really reached out… So it’s really good to hear that people are excited to have us,” She said. “It should be a great store—a great fit.”

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Read more about the business: Patch editor Michael Sewall wrote a Business Spotlight on Pete's Fresh Market for Evergreen Park Patch in December 2013. Here's what they had to say:

When and how did your business get started?

Pete’s Fresh Market got its start in the early 1970s as a full service produce stand. The owner and his two brothers built the business from the ground up. Its success was built upon a foundation of unmatched quality, honest pricing, excellent customer service, and of course a pristine aesthetic. Those pillars still remain the cornerstones of Pete’s Fresh Market. 

What is your business best known for?

Pete’s Fresh Market is truly your one stop shop. We boast aisles of pantry essentials and specialty products, a top of the line deli department featuring Boar’s Head, classically trained butchers who have the expertise to prepare meat to your exact specifications, as well as a full service kitchen and bakery. 

Although Pete’s does have it all, produce is still the heart and soul of our business, as our fruit and vegetables continue to be hand-picked and delivered daily. 

What's something interesting about your business your customers might not know?

Many of our employees have grown up with the company and boast tenures of 20+ years. It’s a great place to start and nurture a career. We’re proud to say that many of our managers and buyers have started out as drivers, baggers, or produce stockers. 

Does your business offer a special deals card or program?

Unlike other “loyalty programs” that save certain perks for their loyalty members, the newly launched Pete’s Fresh Market Rewards Program is solely rewards. All our customers are treated the exact same and have access to the same exact sales and deals, but should a customer choose to join our Rewards program – and that choice is completely voluntary – we offer essentially 2 percent cash back on purchases. 

(Every dollar spent = rewards points. 250 points = $5 off coupon.) As a family owned and operated company, we want to show our extended Chicago family how grateful we are for their continued business and for choosing us.

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