Monday, June 15, 2009

Gourmet for Everyone

Rarely have I been so bummed out at a store's closing than when Gourmet For Everyone called it a day. Deb Hall and Brian Hall had everything right about this place, down to the last little details.... except maybe, just maybe, the location. They were in Landis Lakes, the same East End Lake Forest edge-of-the-county shopping center as Sophie's Yarn, and the traffic flowing there is just not what it should be, despite the wealthy suburbs that surround the area.

I drove from Middletown regularly to shop at this high-end Gourmet food store, even though Fresh Market was much closer and Whole Foods Market was just a little further down the road from that. I tried to get others from my theatre company to patronize them too, and raved about their wonderful wares. They had a marvelous amount of PR buzz going about the place but in the end, none of it was enough and they ended up in the same boat as Market On Market. On May 16, 2007, the Halls announced:

While we have a number of very loyal customers and store fans who have been enthusiastic about our products, had great PR and a high degree of interest in our cooking classes, we are undercapitalized and unable to sustain the store for another year until it can sustain itself.

While the decision to close the store was extremely difficult to make, we expect the future to be bright as we pursue other yet-to-be-determined career avenues.

Two years later, and the place is still dead as a doornail, totally empty, completely on the market but seemingly unwanted. If only the landlords could have cut Deb and Brian some slack, Landis Lakes would have had a crucial keystone store to help attract more businesses to rent the many, many, many other empty storefronts at Landis Lakes.

(If I ran the zoo - and since I don't, I fully concede I may have no idea what I'm talking about - I would waive rent entirely for certain important tenants to help insure that you have a shopping center that looks vibrant and viable enough to convince all the other tenants to rent the many remaining spaces. You have to at least create the illusion that a stable and functioning retail community is cemented firmly in place, or else no one's gonna wanna take a chance on renting a spot there.)

I hope Deb and Brian have moved on to bigger and better things; I haven't had the chance to speak to either one of them since the store closed its doors two years ago.

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