There was never organic produce in stock, and customers were never given the choice of paper or plastic bags. The Pioneer Market was a no-frills, family-run supermarket that despite its limited options and quirks had
Michael Leum, whose father, Leonard, owned the store, said he recalls feeling melancholy on the last day of business as the shelves were depleted of products. “I grew up as a small kid working in the old store before the new store was every built,” said Leum, now a civilian executive with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and a volunteer with its search and rescue team. “An empty store is never a pretty place.”
The last day of Pioneer found Echo Park resident and photographer Martin Cox buying a random assortment of products – including bottled mole and canned octopus -while he photographed the store’s last hours. Cox and others gathered outside that night and watched through the windows as the cashiers removed their cash boxes for the last time. Many people then began pulling down the hand-painted advertisements taped to the front windows and walked away with them as souvenirs.
Photos by Martin Cox