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Added Feb 12 2012

Some fantasy talk about Trader Joes on another thread inspired me to open a new discussion about grocery stores in our neighborhood. I’m interested to hear what people think about their local food shopping options. I don't know if we could attract a Trader Joes here (although one could argue that they have a coverage gap between Lake View and Highland Park), but I do think we could use another type of grocery store, particularly from the perspective of those who prefer to walk rather than drive.

Let me do a little inventory of what we have (help me fill in the gaps): the two Dominicks along the Clark/Ridge corridors; the two independent markets (Morse Fresh and RP Fruit market); as well as a good number of ethnic groceries (several Mexican markets along Clark, and the South Asian markets along Devon in West Ridge—which are excellent, although a little far to walk if you live too far north). We also have the two Whole Foods in Evanston, which I’m very pleased to have that close, although they're even farther for walkers.

Personally, I tend to judge a neighborhood by its smaller independent grocers which offer something other than mainstream supermarket products. Morse Fresh and RP Fruit Market come the closest to that, but although they work very hard to offer a lot of stuff in their cramped spaces (and their prices and produce quality are excellent), I think they’re also deficient in a few ways: most of the bread is bagged and pre-sliced; prepared food options aren’t that good; organic/alternative options are often low; meats are mostly factory-farm sourced; the spice/herb options are poor, particularly if you don't want to buy them in small cans/containers; and condiment selection could be improved. But mostly, I find that neither of these two stores makes me feel very intrigued about food when I’m walking down their aisles; they're kind of utilitarian. Which is good sometimes (I’m not looking for a food Disneyland), but not always...

  • Inactive user

    Ismael M: the developer who put up the high-rise at Granville and Broadway (NE corner) floated rumors that Trader Joes would be a tenant in order to solicit neighbhorhood support. TJ was not planning on going in there at all, and told them to cease and desist. Later, it's an Aldi. Odd.

  • Nolan - RP 2+ Year RP resident

    west ridge? It's on Peterson just west of Western

  • Inactive user

    Ismael - that developer is now getting his just due - nearly all of his retail space is empty and the building has gone from condo to rental units.
    I don't know which Aldergenius approved this design but the building is just the other side of being an's ugly and will not improve with age.

  • Inactive user

    I dont think a trader joes and the farmers market would be an either or thing. Having another decent food store around wouldnt put a farmers market out of business. There is always a need for a farmers market, they have unique fresh products that not even whole foods would necessarily have.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    I came home from the Glenwood Sunday Market yesterday weighted down with two full bags of potatoes, mushrooms, granola, cider, wonderful baked goods made with whole grains, and more. If I could ever get there early, I'd be bringing home wonderful eggs, but those are usually long gone by the time I arrive. Since the market first opened, I've only missed it a couple of times. In some ways, it's also a social occasion.

  • KMQ New to the Uptown Sound

    I dont see the long-term cost benefit for the company if they dropped a Trader Joe's in the middle of RP. I have been 3 times to a Trader Joe's, and it always seems to be overpriced for me. I dont think the average household in RP could afford to purchase their daily items from a TJ. Does anyone have the figures on annual household income in RP?

    I love going to Morse Market, as I feel it helps support a good local business, and the prices are fantastic compared to the big box stores.

    I like what we have currently, but dont want to over-saturate the market. I think everyone who is clamoring for the Trader Joe's is doing so for two reasons: prestigious image, and an anchor for the Morse corridor. The latter reason I can totally understand, but the prior just seems to be for selfish pride.

  • Adam Rogers park resident, small business owner

    It pains me to read this thread with people clamoring for a Trader Joe's or a TJ's. I consider Morse Market to be one of the crown jewels of Rogers Park. It of course doesn't look like much from the outside, but the owner tries very hard to cater to a broad spectrum of shoppers - from those who need only the basics and care exclusively about the price point, and those who are willing to pay more for organic. Even when buying mostly organic, I never walk out of there having spent more than $20 or $30 for what seems like a lot of food. Their organic prices are also $1 - $3 less per item than Whole Foods. As a business owner myself, I have to give huge props to these guys for doing the absolute best they can in the space they have.

    I would much much rather push/lobby, hell, even donate, to help Morse Market expand and see what they can do with a larger space than try to attract a national chain which will inevitably harm this business that has done so much to anchor the street and will always be more receptive to the needs and desires of the local area.

  • According to this City data link, the median 2009 household income in RP is $65,080, so I think we can handle a TJ. (

    I would like to see a TJ in RP as I drive freqently to the one near Lincoln and Addison to shop. I don't shop at the Morse Market and won't, so the idea that the two are in competition may not be realistic.

  • Inactive user

    Muellers is great. As to the meter issue, my time is worth way more than the 50 cents I might nominally save by driving to Skokie to park in a lot and that doesn't even gas and wear and tear on the car going back and forth. 'll pay nominally more to save my precious resource my time

  • Bill W. 12 Year Resident of Rogers Park

    I tend to shop at the Morelia on Western. It has decent prices, a good bakery and good meats. For name brand stuff, I stick to the Dominicks or Jewel stores in the area. Also in the summer Ed&Irv's on Touhy has the best steaks in town!

  • Trader Joes employees wear Hawaiian shirts, is that a "prestigious image"? No, its quirky and fun, which in some ways could characterize some elements of Rogers Park. I'm a broke student and I consider Trader Joes cheap, especially when it comes to easy and tasty frozen items. They always have samples of new products in their stores which gives shopping their a fun edge, plus its small which gives it a more community like feel. Do I think RP will ever get one - no. Does this make me jaded? Not in the least. But do I think that RP would be conducive for a TJ, yup. It's one of the few corporate places I would actually endorse. Like I said in previous posts on this topic, I never want to see independent businesses at a disadvantage to such corporate businesses, but as a resident, I also would like to have the conveniency of certain stores/products. But hell, who doesn't.

  • Adam Rogers park resident, small business owner

    Suzanne, please don't take this as a negative tone, I'm just curious why you would never shop at Morse Market and find the need to drive to Wrigleyville to get groceries? Is it a lack of selection? A distrust of the meats? Produce quality? Lack of pre-prepared food that is more convenient?

    I ask because when I first moved in to the neighborhood I would only drive to the Dominick's to shop as they were more "trustworthy," specifically for meat and produce. I figured - large chain, higher quality control processes, etc. But then I decided to visit Devon Market one day and realized how much extra I was spending for the exact same items I was buying at the chains. Then I went in to Morse Market and found the experience even better, with a better selection of the types of foods I need for my cooking, very high quality organic meats and produce, etc. I've never looked back and rarely set foot anyplace else, except for the weekly pilgrimage to a Whole Foods salad bar.

  • Inactive user

    @ Suzanne D. 1. City-data is not the most authoritative source 2. The link you proivided does not cover RP. If you insist on city-dataThe link to RP is here:

    The link you provided cover West Ridge and Parts of Evanston....a different demographic. anyhow here is the info from city-data (again cd not the best)

    Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago statistics: (Find on map)

    Area: 2.478 square miles

    Population: 63,810

    Population density:
    Rogers Park: 25,750 people per square mile
    Chicago: 12,750 people per square mile

    Median household income 2009:
    Rogers Park: $37,630
    Chicago: $45,734

    Median rent in 2009:
    Rogers Park: $810
    Chicago: $768

    Male vs Females
    Males: 32,529
    Females: 31,280

    Median age
    Males: 29.7 years
    Females: 30.9 years

    Housing prices:
    Average estimated value of detached houses in 2009 (3.9% of all units):
    Rogers Park: $458,119
    Chicago: $290,495

    Average estimated value of townhouses or other attached units in 2009 (2.6% of all units):
    This neighborhood: $152,219
    city: $244,462

    Average estimated value of housing units in 2-unit structures in 2009 (4.6% of all units):
    This neighborhood: $223,850
    Chicago: $184,702

    Average estimated '09 value of housing units in 3-to-4-unit structures (8.1% of all units):
    Rogers Park: $377,367
    city: $427,981

    Average estimated '09 value of housing units in 5-or-more-unit structures (80.8% of all units):
    Rogers Park: $214,575
    Chicago: $352,133


  • Jason 3 Year Rogers Park Resident

    Sorry, but Trader Joe's isn't expensive. I bought a box of Organic Green Tea for under $3 there, rather than a store here sold for $4. If TJ came, I'd still happily shop at Morse Market. All in all, if you think Trader Joe's is expensive, your head will explode if you go to New Leaf or Whole Foods.

  • Thanks for the demographic update Lawfin -- I didn't look at the map, just googled the question. It was West Ridge!

    Adam -- Its "curb appeal" is lacking. Doesn't seem very clean to me and I can't get past that. It looks like a store that markets itself as the grocery option for those who don't have transportation options. Not a place you would choose to go in. Plus, don't like having to deal with the hang-out/give me money crew along Morse. It seems like you need to be prepared to run a gauntlet getting in and out.

    Sadly, that whole curb appeal thing is actually an issue for many RP retail places. There is almost never anything that is visually enticing that would prompt you to want to enter. Dirty windows buried with junk -- overall RP has a commercial look that attracts no one.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    Morse Market fans: I am the sorry soul who suggested that a Trader Joes would be desirable for RP. I never suggested that this be on Morse. I suspect folks north of Touhy seldom shop on Morse. My suggestion is for a Trader Joes on Howard Street or somewhere in the northern section of Rogers Park. The demographics may not support one to the corporate decision makers, although I think you would be surprised by the number of households north of Touhy and East of Ridge that are well over $60,000.

    The argument that lower income folks would never shop in this sort of store is suspect to me as well. Right now a lot of low income shoppers shop at the smaller convenience markets that dot the landscape (I can think of five on Howard Street and Rogers east of the el). I find it hard to believe that these shops would be less expensive than a TJ's. A TJ would attract folks from miles around and bring outside dollars (and jobs) into the hood. The conveniece stores certainly do not do attract outside dollars. I also suspect that lower income folks value having a choice and "nicer" stores as much as anyone else. FYI, my low income tenants (they are artists) drive to and do shop at Trader Joes. Frankly, I am tired of the attitude that RP doesn't qualify to be served by more trendy stores. This is rather self-perpetuating.

    Suzanne, I have shopped occasionally at the Morse Market and it is an awesome little store. It even has parking. It is one of many hidden jewels in RP. I like your West Ridge stats. I bet they would come to East Rogers Park to shop if there was a Trader Joes.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Yeah, I gotta call you out on that on, Suzanne. I know trendy, and I've lived in some tony places in my life, but there's nothing wrong with the curb appeal of Morse Market. And it's just as clean inside as any grocery store.

    Actually I found your comment hilarious. You represent the Rogers Park hoity toity! The Violet Crawley of Rogers Park.... I actually don't mind that at all. It takes all kinds.

    Morse Fresh has been really intelligent in positioning itself between the large supermarket chains and the small independent stores, with good pricing and wide offerings. Although I think it can still be improved in a few areas, I don't think any chain store--TJs, WF, etc.--would ever pose a threat to it.

  • Inactive user

    Suzanne - give The Morse Fresh Market a try- you'll find it a rather
    positive experience - oh by the way it is CLEAN - It doesn't sound as if you like RP very much at all - so I am curious why you choose to stay hear.

  • Luci in Rogers Park Dog Lover, living in Rogers Park for 26 years

    The thing I don't like about Morse Fresh Market is the smell of bug killer on their grocery bags. The minute my boyfriend puts the bags into the car-----there is THAT SMELL. We always throw those bags out. I don't care for their produce, I find it a hit or miss.

  • Inactive user

    Convenience stores are a rip off and not well stocked with fresh's buyer beware. The Morse Market, Devon Market, Edgewater Produce, etc aare NOT convenience stores.

  • Inactive user

    As opposed to the expensive and lousy produce at the chains? Every grocery has some type of insect, so do most restaurants, vegi markets etc. Would you prefer bugs in the car?

  • KMQ New to the Uptown Sound

    @Tom2422, I only proposed that it would go on Morse because that seems to be the "heart" of Rogers Park to me. Its a place that needs a revival, and it would fit in well with the Reside, the Act One/Mayne Stage, Common Cup...would be a great addition if it went there. However, I want to support the Morse Fresh market as much as possible. What I would REALLY love to see if more entertainment options here...possibly a bowling alley...but thats just me.

  • Inactive user

    Morse is already reviving. It's Howard that's in trouble IMO.

  • Adam Rogers park resident, small business owner

    Suzanne, thank you for your honest reply about why you don't shop there. I can't say I've never done the same thing with grocery stores, restaurants, etc., especially when traveling. But as others have said I would encourage you to try it again, even if for something simple like canned or frozen goods. I suspect you would find it a more pleasant experience than what is represented from the outside.

    The business reality for a place like Morse Market is the money that doesn't get spent on beautiful signage and exterior improvements goes in to the savings they pass along to its shoppers. Part of what you are paying for at the large retailers is their marketing budgets.

    As for the quality of the produce, I'm in Whole Foods at least once a week, either for a trip to the salad bar or for ingredients I can't find anywhere else. While Whole Foods' produce is the best you will find, they also are extremely choosy about what makes it on to the shelves, not from a quality perspective, but from an "eye test" perspective. That's why every single WF's have salad bars, because the tomato that has a scratch on the outside should absolutely not be thrown out, but used in some way. Their customer-base demands perfection in what they're spending a premium on, and WF has figured out a way to monetize everything that comes in to the store. It's why I own a few shares of stock in their company :)

    Morse Market's produce may have a scrape on the outside, a wilted leaf on a head of lettuce, etc. but that doesn't mean the quality is significantly less, it just means they're not picking through everything for external blemishes when the quality is still there.

  • Carl and Ed -- Sorry if I don't find Morse Market an attractive place to shop. I'm not hoity toity -- just speaking the truth. You know why Home Depot lost significant market share to Lowe's? Because Lowe's decided to market to women and make the overall shopping experience more attractive.

    As men, you may not realize how often women make decisions based on the look of things. Rogers Park has a bit of a crime and gang problem (as we know from being EB folks.) When I am doing business in RP, I want to be able to look into a store and see whether there is any situation that needs to be of concern to me BEFORE I enter. Having spent my entire adult life living in Chicago, DC, or NYC, it's a matter of street smarts. Morse Market gives me no comfort on that front. You may not consider it anything more than a hassle to deal with folks asking you for money when shopping on Morse. A woman walking in with her daughter to shop (as I often am) can find it somewhat threatening.

    Ed --I don't choose to stay "hear" -- I stay "here" because there are many great facets to Rogers Park. From beautiful old housing stock, proximity to the lake and downtown, the ability to be within a few minutes of everything that a large city has to offer, not being a homogenous neighborhood. BUT, it has real problems that need to be acknowledged and addressed. A lack of diversity in retail is one of them. Since women make most purchasing decisions, local retailers should respond to that reality if they wish to thrive.

    Finally, as a general and sexist aside, many women would concur that the average male seems incapable of recognizing "dirty" when it's staring them in the face! How's that for throwing out red meat?

  • Inactive user

    I find Morse Market pretty clean, and pretty safe, and I'm a petite female. I don't pay attention to marketing or "shopping experience", I just go wherever's closest and most convenient. Which is why I don't go to Morse Market regularly--there's closer places to me (I basically only go there on my way home from the Sunday Market). If it were close, I'd go more often for sure.

  • Inactive user

    Suzanne, funny I see as many men in both Devon and Morse Markets as women. You say RP has problems and that they need to be addressed. Your are correct, but the same can be said for Lincoln Park, Edgebrook, Wrigleyville, etc. Point is this, if your interested in making a difference taking your shopping dollars to other more "tawny" surgically clean areas weaken our community. It is a fact.
    About your unintelligent remark about men and cleanliness....well...I can't speak for the men in your life, but that was flat out ignorant. If you are not part of the solution you ARE part of the problem.

  • Not to add more fuel to the fire, but I do just want to say that the comment Suzanne made doesn't represent the feelings of all women. I'm a woman and I am detail/aesthetically oriented and I find Morse to be lovely. It is very clean, and if you haven't been inside it's really not fair to say it's not. I'm also responsible for my household's grocery purchases and think Morse is the best option for affordable, high quality produce and a great selection of unique things to try.

    I never feel threatened by the people who ask for money, if you try getting to know them as members of your community you'll find that they're not violent and they're not interested in hurting you, they just want some help. Also, yes, the gang violence in this neighborhood is tragic, but if you're not in a gang the odds of you becoming a victim of it are very low.

    Anywho! All that said, this discussion has been exhaustive and I think if folks want to take it further they should take some action and then we can deal with this issue if it comes up in community meetings and such.

  • Inactive user

    RIght On Megan!

  • Ed -- Why would keeping my shopping dollars at places where I don't want to shop change anything? In fact, wouldn't it make the markets I think need to improve to attract my business believe they don't need to improve!?

    As Tom 2422 pointed out, there is value to our community in having stores in RP that people from outside our community would actually make a point of coming to! You seem to have some chip on your shoulder at the very idea that this is not some Soviet-style penal camp that can mandate where RP residents shop. Lighten up and get over it!

    And, yes -- he went for the red meat!!

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Suzanne, this is just getting better and better! You have me doubled over laughing now. I'm picturing you attempting to enter Morse Market: evading all the dangerous people at the entrance, your daughter cowered in terror behind you, stepping clear of the piles of slop, almost falling into the rotten produce, doing your best not to bump into any of the unsanitary, aesthetically-challenged men like me...

  • Krisann architectural educator

    Morse Market is the most perfectly "faced" grocery store I've ever been in, meaning the fronts of the shelves are always perfectly lined up and stacked with products. It takes a lot of work to maintain that level of attention and there are always employees eager to replace something when there is a hole in the display.

    If you look down the aisles, they are lovely.

    I LOVE going with my daughter. The women at the deli always fawn over her and all the employees always ask how she is. That store is a gem.

  • Carl -- Like we laugh over your inability to figure out how to park and drive legally in the "Big City?" You seem to be challenged in many ways!

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    oh yes I am challenged, Suzanne. In so many ways...

  • Carl -- I am sorry you are having a tough time. I apologize for being sarcastic in my previous post, and hope things brighten up for you shortly.

  • Inactive user

    Suzie - Clearly you are a proponent of judging a book by its cover -
    what do you look like, just so I can decide whether....oh never mind.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Oh, I was just trying to be ironic there, Suzanne; I'm not facing any particular difficulties. It's true that I've had my share of parking tickets, but since they were all so flagrantly unreasonable, my sense of personal virtue has not been damaged. :)

    You seem like a decent, spirited person, and I'd probably like you if I met you. It just seemed really peculiar and comical to me that a resident of RP would feel apprehensive about walking into Morse Fresh, which feels like the very heart of what the neighborhood is all about. But hey, if everyone shared the same opinions and tastes on here, it wouldn't be very interesting, would it.

  • KMQ New to the Uptown Sound

    Please keep your personal sniping away from the Community Forums, as they do not follow EveryBlock policy, and really show poor taste.

  • DaveP been around

    I'm personally more offended by the sexiest comments originally posted by suzanne than anything post afterwards.

    But, hey, since it's a woman talking bad about men, it's ok!

  • Inactive user

    Agreed...some get it.

  • I remeber when TRADER JOES Wanted to move into the Dollar Store space on Morse. It was way back in the early-mid 90s. I think. Jewel Osco was allowed to put an easement (or something similar) on that piece of land forbidding any competing type store be put there for something like 25 years. That is why the Dollar Store is in the strip mall on Morse Ave!! I hear that type of restriction is not used as often today. It is used in areas that are very desperate for any kind of development. And at the time Morse was in that situation.

    Morse Meat Market has improved over the years. The foul odor of rotting meat or something- - has been fixed about 5-yrs ago. Half rotted fruits and vegtables seem to be not as often. They do have good pricing on chicken. The deli is pretty budget oriented. Alot of processed lunch meat etc. I think they are balancing their products according to how the area changes. I am hoping higher quality goods to be available. We now do most of our shopping at the farmers market, Dominicks, Whole Foods. Tired of like I said half rotted fruits. But we still shop at Morse Meat Market in a pinch for milk, and other staples to bind us over.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Trader Joe's would be decent, but Morse Foods is just incredible. Absolutely love that place- extremely wide selection, great bread, cheap deli with good selection. And they even have those hot rotisserie chickens for lazy nights!

  • I've still never checked out that fruit market on Clark. Good produce?

  • Jessica G. Kansan, Politics Junkie, and Aspiring Hippie.

    If you're talking about the Rogers Park Fruit Market, then yes they have great produce, and a large selection. At least that's true of the times I've been there.

  • Sandy in EdgeGlen EdgeGlen since 1987

    I'm still smarting that the anchor store of the Granville/B'way condo bldg. isn't a TJ's or even a WF, but rather a depressing Aldi. Sure, they do carry a lot of Euro imports the other chains don't, but there are some brands I trust and my family likes and don't want to sub with house labels that may be inferior. (This is especially true with cleaning and pet supplies at HF, which simply don't do the job as well--or taste as good to my cats--as the brand-name stuff at Dominicks, Target or Jewel). And since I cannot walk several blocks with a schlep-cart (or even to the far end of a parking lot or garage), it rankles me to have to leave my cart in front of the entrance while I retrieve my car to load it--back when the supermarkets wouldn't let you take a cart to your car, I got my groceries ripped off a couple of times. It's not even the 25-cent cart deposit, it's Aldi's nickel-and-dime attitude.

    Where and what's Morse Market, and how's the parking?

  • Inactive user

    MOrse Market is just west of the tracks on Morse on the north side. Decent Parking next to it. It can get tight with the spots but usually its okay. Definitely a decent grocery shop, the guy cares, it shows.

  • Sandy in EdgeGlen EdgeGlen since 1987

    Thanks, Jeff--I'll try it!

  • Inactive user

    You won't be sorry...their home made Aalsa & Gucamole are to die for, really!

  • Connie Abels THE Rogers Park Real Estate Broker

    I shop Morse market always for veggies as their produce is excellent and I feel that is is well organized. They do pack in a lot of product in a small space and the staff is very friendly and accommodating.I do buy meat there, but I prefer Devon Market for their meat. Excellent quality and prices. Their bananas are always the best price, and ...they have homemade bread. They also have liquor; a decent selection of wines and beer and fair pricing. I haven't been to Dominicks in years.

  • Jackie L Tajiri EdgeRoge Celtic Music Lover

    A lease was just signed for a Trader Joe's at 1211 Chicago Ave. in Evanston. <green with envy>

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