Fresh Market announced Monday that it's closing 15 stores including ones in Peoria and Normal. Developer Les Cohen is responsible for bringing Fresh Market to Peoria eight years ago. He said the announcement about it's closing reflects changes the grocery industry is experiencing. Westlake Plaza got infrastructure improvements Fresh Market opened it's doors in August of 2010. Cohen said since then, the store has changed owners.
"When we first leased it it was privately owned, it became a public company, shortly after it opened in Westlake it was taken back private again a couple years ago. So it's going through it own evolution learning how to position itself or reposition itself in the age of the internet," he said.
Peoria economic development specialist Leslie McKnight agreed.
"The grocery markets, to be more competitive they're rethinking how they provide food supplies. They're looking at smaller models now, they're looking to get online markets," she said.
We asked Fresh Market shoppers what they thought about the store's closing and losing roughly 65 jobs.
"I'm here at least once a week. I go to the deli , I get get chicken and tuna salad. It's the only place they don't shove a bunch of sugar in their food," said shopper Rachel Lewis.
"It seems like everything's becoming a white elephant in Peoria. It's a little disappointing. I know a lot of people said that the prices were over priced. But most places have Whole Foods. Memphis has a Whole Foods within a block from Fresh Market and they're thriving," said shopper Tafi Brown.
"I am sad mainly for the employees, they didn't find out until three o'clock yesterday," said shopper Dottie Weddle.
It's the second store to close in Westlake Shopping Center. Toys r Us closed earlier this year and now Fresh Market will shut it's doors. Les Cohen said he is aggressively looking for tenants. He said the metro Peoria area has a thriving medical workforce and service industries to support new retailers.