The announcement by the 75-year old Crown Market in West Hartford, Connecticut, that it would be closing sent shock waves through the Jewish community.
Mark Bakeoff, who bought the market five years ago, said tough economic conditions and increasing competition have made things difficult, but the biggest blow came with “one of the worst winters on record in a decade.” Despite attempts to save the market, the owner is not optimistic. Sources told Kosher Today that the store did not cater to the community’s small but growing Orthodox community.
Mark Silk, a professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, explains that one of the reasons Crown Market is closing is because “the Ultra-Orthodox did not believe the market was kosher enough and refused to patronize it.” Silk goes on to explain that modern Judaism has seen a decline among what he terms the “Modern Orthodox” and an increase in the number of Ultras. Rabbi Ilana Garber, a Conservative rabbi and a loyal Crown customer, is leading the efforts to save the supermarket.
The announcement of the pending closure resulted in some soul searching by many Jews in the community. One blogger wrote: “I chose to shop at the new neighborhood Wal-Mart because we wanted to save money. What I realize now, much too late, is that if I had shopped at Crown and paid a little bit more, I would have been supporting this important part of the Jewish community that we cherish and love. And now, with a heavy heart, I admit I was wrong. I apologize. I know that isn’t enough. I wish it were. I wish I could promise to shop there for now on. I wish I could get 500 families to pledge to do the same. I wish I had known they were in trouble so I could have done something, anything.”
Other bloggers also shed tears and one vacationer in Turks and Cacos even placed an order long distance. Many markets and even restaurants have opened because of a pledge of community support only to close when the support was not forthcoming. The upscale Le Masada Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency in Chicago was one such case in the late ‘90’s.