Everything Goes: Former Echo Park market to reopen for one final sale

The glass doors of the Echo Park  Save A Lot have been shut tight since March when the discount market unexpectedly closed, leaving behind a store still stocked with unsold merchandise and abandoned equipment. On November 1, however, those doors will reopen when all the remaining items in the store – from unsold boxes of salsa and diapers to meat display cases and cash registers – will be put up for sale at auction “by order of landlord,” according to Van Horn Auctions.  There was no mention of the Save A Lot van, used to transport customers, that was a common sight in the store’s Sunset Boulevard parking lot.

A spokesman for Fresh & Easy, the expanding grocery chain that was interested in the Echo Park market, said he had no updates to offer.

The Echo Park Save-A-Lot, located next to a Walgreens, operated in part of the building that was once home to Pioneer Market, which closed in 2004 after more than 60 years in business.

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  1. Trader Joe’s needs to wake up and smell the opportunity. That store on Hyperion has so much bad energy.

  2. No kidding. Trader Joe’s would be missing a huge opportunity not to open up here. It is adjacent to SO many neighborhoods (including downtown) that are bereft of comparable places to buy groceries. The trip to the Silver lake store is exactly the reason why I avoid it.

  3. Would be a terrible business move for TJ’s to put another store only a few miles away.

    What’s the specific issue with SL TJ’s?

  4. fascinating to me is that the owners just up and left everything in there. it’s like a ghost ship, so spooky.

  5. @fleaman,

    Mostly, it’s the overcrowded parking lot and the sometimes 20 minute drive to get to the closes supply of organic food this side of Glendale. And now that Nature Mart is going out of business, us organic foodies on the east side are screwed.

  6. why on earth would it be a terrible business move for TJ’s? i do believe there are plenty of folks in echo park and further east that would love to save themselves the car ride…

  7. @Border Dude,

    I for one think people are insane for attempting to enter the main lot. Sanity check for sure.

    BUT, there’s the upper lot which seems to always have spots, PLUS plenty of street parking all over the place. Park on the street and walk a hundred yards or so (or less). I live down by Baller hardware and walk to TJ’s. Even if I stop by TJ’s on the way home, i NEVER go into the main lot, and usually just park on the street and walk there. I’ve also parked at Gelsons and cross the street. Seems like a LOT of people do this and I’ve never seen a tow truck in Gelsons, and I’m pretty much there every day (‘cos I walk). Gelsons business has increased a lot since TJ’s opened, so I think they turn a blind eye. They don’t wanna piss off people that have also become ‘their’ customers.

    So Again, what’s the issue?

    I’m one of those people who park in the first space I see within reason, and walk. I don’t drive around/wait for spots that are closest to the door. I usually park further and walk right past the cars (before me) still waiting for spaces, it’s literally faster 95% of the time. If you’re not one of those people, then TJ’s SL is certainly not your spot.

  8. @jakey,

    You obviously have never owned or operated a business. A TJ’s 2 miles from another TJ’s would cover most of the same customer base and area. So, 2x the expenses/costs to run with about 1/2 the customers.

  9. @fleaman

    If you check the redondo Trader Joes they have 3 trader joes within 4 miles of each other. If there is enough customers there is reason to open another nearby. Seeing how busy the Silver Lake one gets i think they would be able to handle another one. And would attract new customers that stopped going because how hectic the silver lake one is. Its a big city with lots of people.

  10. TJ’s in EP makes sense to me. I think it’s more than 2mi. SL TJ’s makes a lot of dough I know they’ve had a million $ week in the past. I think EP could do the same.

  11. When I visit the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s (which I remember used to be a Hub-Mart), I pass the first, closest parking lot, and if the second parking lot looks busy, then I take a right onto Rowena (past the dry-cleaners) and park on Rowena, near the convalescent home. But I have a more-pressing question: I had no idea Nature Mart is going out of business; is that for sure?

  12. I contacted Trader Joe’s corporate when the Pioneer Market went out of business and it was an education, our neighborhood simply isn’t genteel enough for the TJ’s chain. Fresh and Easy on the other hand has been opening stores in all kinds of neighborhoods with the slogan “we believe in making fresh and high-quality food accessible in every neighborhood” and I have to applaud that, and say that it is a distinct difference from TJ’s store placement policy. Contrast and compare locations: http://www.traderjoes.com/pdf/locations/so-cali.pdf with http://www.freshandeasy.com/whereweareMaps.aspx?map=LosAngeles
    I’d love for TJ’s to prove me wrong, but I would be very happy to welcome a Fresh and Easy, even if we are only 3 miles from the Glassell Park /Eagle Rock location.

  13. @James, its sad but true they have to be out by the end of the month.

  14. Trader Joe’s has many stores in the same areas. I can’t understand why they would miss out on this opportunity! I would love a TJ’s or even a Figueroa Produce in this location. Keep sending Trader Joe’s corporate emails! Go here http://www.traderjoes.com/about/index.asp – under Customer Feedback, and fill in form for “Location Request”

  15. TJ’s should have gotten into Downtown when it was cheep. Imagine, a DT TJ? Place would rock from am to pm.

  16. @ekirby, TJ’s is exactly 2 miles from Walgreens in a straight line. Look on google maps and measure, I did. Tell me where the customers/demographic a EP TJ’s would ‘gain’ (not duplicate) over SL TJ’s? Everyone I know in echo park goes to the SL TJ’s w/o complaint. Haven’t heard one person refusing to go.

    @TJ Foodie> That’s impressive. I have 2 questions/points; What sizes are those Redondo TJ’s? Are they smaller than the SL one? And second, 4 miles is double the distance and exponentially much greater square miles. People in echo park are not gonna stop going to TJ’s SL ‘cos it’s 2 miles away, and @James clearly illustrates how easy it is to access TJ’s. Sure, there are probably a handful or more ex-echo park customers who can’t figure out the simple things in life (like James has), but that doesn’t support a whole ‘nother store. Bottom line is that TJ’s SL will lose 1/3rd-1/2 or so customers to a echo park store, while the EP store won’t really make up for that in NEW customers. 4 miles from SL TJ’s would put it around 1st/alameda, yet the demographics around there don’t support a full store. Anything south, southeast of echo park is questionable demographics wise. So all you would be doing by having a EP TJ’s is saving current customers from a trip to SL TJ’s. Bad business move.


  17. Oops, my last post looks like I signed it ‘James’, but that was just a leftover edit.

  18. Not trying to make this “an is to is not” Mapquest – Glendale Bl. 2.95 mi. Sunset 2.91. SL TJ’s to Glendale TJ’s 3.32 .

  19. ekirby, I said ‘in a straight line’.

    That was not a straight line.

  20. Oops, where you talking about the Glendale TJ’s? I thought we were talkn echo park.

  21. Do you have a plane? Who drives in a straight line.

  22. Straight line gives a radius. The middle point between TJ SL and a TJ EP would be 1 mile, that means at that middle mile point you have 2 TJ’s that are 1 mile from you.

  23. Just comparing distances. Anyway customer base for SL must also include Los Feliz and E Hollywood, Atwater and maybe Glassell Park. Other closest TJ’s Santa Monica and Formosa? and La Brea. EP still feels good to me. What about all those near Belmont?

  24. Simple question to you all>> Any of you NOT shop at any TJ’s due to distance? If so, please post the approx cross streets you’re at.

  25. Belmont> First, the smallish TJ type demographic in Belmont that would shop at TJ’s probably already does. You’d have to show a TJ demographic that ‘would’ shop at TJ’s but doesn’t due to distance.

    Also don’t ignore that the mass majority of TJ’s customers in echo park already shop at TJ’s SL.

    I don’t doubt that a EP TJ’s is more ‘convenient’ to EP residents, and for sure they would shop there instead of SL, but that doesn’t gain any new customers, only splits them, all the while increasing costs 2x. For the millions TJ would have to invest over 5 years in a EP store, that’s a mighty big risk, and a rather dumb one business wise IMO. It would ‘feel good’ to you, but the demographics don’t support another TJ’s so close together.

  26. And BTW, TJ’s routinely ask customers for their zip during the surveys they do once or twice a year. That and their website store request + professional demographic research/study will influence their decision on where and what size stores to open.

    If the evidence supports a store in EP that will turn a profit, w/o impacting SL stores revenue, there’s no doubt they would do it. If any of you are that passionate about it, talk to the manager the next time your in TJ’s and bring up the idea of a EP store. If anyone is more informed on the logistics of that, he/she would be.

  27. @ fleaman Huh? I hate shopping. Any inconvenience is an excuse to move on. TJ’s SL is or has become inconvenient and whenever possible I’ll go to Glendale. Easy in and out, most of the time. Really they’re all becoming impossible even Burbank. An EP TJ would take the pressure off. If not the city should close Sunset and put in a pipeline or something.

  28. I’d love to see a “Sprouts” go in there. That is a great store – lots of organic and non-organic produce, healthy frozen foods, meat dept., deli and tons of great bulk bins. Super affordable prices and lots of good sales always going on.

    The closest ones I know of are Burbank and a Pasadena-ish one at Rosemead and the 210.

    I think that would be perfect for the neighborhood. TJs is close enough already – even though their parking lot is a bit of a pain in the ass.

  29. ekirby, so your answer is that you still shop at TJ’s. Another ‘split’ customer, not a new one.

    Not a convincing argument for TJ’s management, lol.

  30. And again, I don’t understand why people bother with TJ’s main lot. If anyone parks in the main lot I have to ask, why?

    If you don’t like their main lot, don’t park in it. Park on the street, at Gelsons, at the upper lot, walk a few yards by golly. There’s MANY parking options.

    I live 2 blks away and walk anyway. WAY further than if someone parked at all the many parking spaces I see (not metered) on my walk to TJ’s.

  31. It seems to me that store is pretty small, space-wise, no? TJs would do its usual trick of jamming a million things into small shelves divided by very narrow aisles. And they would be re-stocking those shelves constantly, the way they do everywhere else, so the place would be insanely over-crowded from day 1. To say nothing of the parking lot. Otherwise, it would have to limit its offerings, so ultimately we would all have to trek to Silverlake anyway. I really wish the space could open up for use as a fresh produce store by any and all local CSAs.

  32. I want Fresh & Easy in there!!! Man, I hope the landlord/owner of the building is not a greedy ‘you know what’ that he’s scaring away F&E, TJ, or any other potential business. We need a market in that immediate area that does not have flies hovering over the produce! Vons don’t cut it either. Fresh & Easy…. I hope you are reading this…. you will have a goldmine if you move in 🙂

  33. @fleaman I still shop a TJ’s but if it’s a traffic jam you won’t find me at SL. I too have a parking strategy. But I don’t mind moving on.

  34. A community market would be great! NOT a T.J.s. NOT a Fresh’n’Easy.
    Something to replace Nature Mart but locally sourced. There are so many great local farmers…………….

  35. BEV MO!
    just to piss people off!

  36. In other Trader Joe’s news, their La Crescenta store (on Foothill and New York) – which is reportedly one of their first locations — is closing this Friday, and a brand-new TJs is opening on Honolulu in Montrose. People were hoping that enough customers came from Sunland and Tujunga to keep the La Crescenta store open, but I guess those folks will have to travel a couple of miles to the new Montrose store.

    I have to say, as someone who works in the Echo Park area and lives in La Crescenta (after a lifetime in Silver Lake), I feel pretty well-served by supermarkets. On my way home up the 2 Freeway, I can exit at San Fernando Road for Super King (insane deals on produce as well as good, fresh ceviche and tabouli); exit at Verdugo for Fresh and Easy (I get rid of all my spare change in their self-serve machines) or the TJs on Colorado in Eagle Rock, the TJ’s in Glendale, or the new store in Montrose. (Wow, this is just scintillating to read, ain’t it?)

  37. Damn I started a sh*t storm.

  38. Border Dude,
    May I suggest one of our city’s excellent farmers markets as a source of organic/pesticide-free fruit and veggies? Cut out the corporate middleman and buy direct from the growers.

    But I am very sad about Nature Mart closing, though apparently another health food place bought out their lease. That place was an institution!

  39. Question about ‘organic’ farmers at the farmers markets> How do you know they are really ‘organic’?? Because they say so?

    I remember one of the tv news stations did an investigative report….I think they went to the Larchmont market, maybe some others (venice/santa monica? can’t remember), and they tailed a few of the farmers claiming to be selling organic/pesticide free, etc., etc. , and found out they were just backing their vans up to the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market and buying cases of cheap non-organic produce, ditching the cases and then selling at the ‘local’ farmers markets as ‘organic’, ‘local’ (just cos it’s from a LA wholesaler doesn’t mean it’s local), etc.

    They were caught red handed. So how do you know? At least when you buy things labeled ‘organic’ at TJ’s, whole foods, Gelsons or any other supermarket, you know they are organic (labeling laws, etc.).

  40. Oh, and the tv report also showed there were some legit organic farmers, but when they came up short on a harvest, or had problems w/harvest, they would just back their van up to the wholesale produce market and do the same thing.



    WHATEVER’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN: I remember years ago when “Organic” and “Anti Pesticide” was the hot new button. A friend went to Farmers Market at 3rd & Fairfax, bought a bag of regular tomatoes, then sat down where she could get a good view, and saw the vendor reach into the same box under the counter when a customer requested 30% more expensive “Organic . . . Free of Pesticides” tomatoes.

  42. Fleaman, if you build a relationship with the vendors, you will find out a lot about where the food is coming from. It is my understanding that the vendors must be actually growing the food within a certain distance from the market, so the food can be considered “local.” Apparently getting an organic certification is an expensive and red tape-filled process, so many vendors are for all intents and purposes organic, but cannot legally label the food “officially” organic.

    The famous Fairfax and 3rd Farmers Market is a tourist attraction, the food is not necessarily local, and it is not a certified market in the same way as Echo Park’s, Silver Lake’s, Atwater’s, etc. Not that it isn’t a cool place, but I wasn’t suggesting anyone shop there for affordable local produce.

  43. So what your saying is you gotta take their ‘word’ for it.

  44. Echo Parkers need to lose the chip on their shoulder about being 2nd class citizens to Silver Lakers. Sorry, EPers, but the housing market crashed and your neighborhood never caught up to Silver Lake and Los Feliz. And for what it’s worth, Fresh & Easy beats the sh*t out of TJ’s any day of the week. Both stores ‘ products do not have preservatives, but F&E puts outdated items on major sale every day while TJ’s stuff has fungus.

  45. And BTW, even if the other farmers markets make an attempt to certify their venders, which is totally arbitrary btw, they can’t possibly monitor their venders from start (farming) to finish (produce on vender table) at every step of the process at every market day. When those other markets go to inspect farms, it’s no guarantee that what they bring to the table is from those farms, grown in a organic way, on any particular day. Plus, again, they are taking their farmers words for it. Unless these markets are sitting at the farms every day watching how they grow/harvest.

    Many of these venders know what the other venders do, and that is cheat. Sure the markets can inspect their venders, but after that, there’s no way of knowing if they do what others have done (and been caught doing), which is, when the time has come (due to bad harvest, low stock, etc.), back up their van to the wholesale produce market.

    Sure there’s red tape involved in certifying organic, and that’s because it’s SOOOooo easy to cheat.

    One thing is pretty much a given: The chances are much higher that your ‘organic’ produce bought at even the arbitrary certified (by themselves) markets would not really be organic vs. store bought organic labeled produce.

  46. Trader Joes hates poor people thats why they will never bring their stores to EP, still too much riff raff for their liking. F&E is willing to go into areas with people that probably wouldnt have access to reasonably fresh food or affordable organic products. Sure theyre not completely organic, but theyre giving people a chance to discover foods they may never have heard of or felt they could afford to buy. My wish if anything is for a F&E to come, that way they can service more than just class of people in EP. Plus their wine is cheap and amazing!

  47. *more than one class* oops

  48. So now TJ’s is discriminatory?

    Now I’ve heard everything.

    Guess we can label Whole Foods, Gelsons, etc., etc. the same. Maybe they shouldn’t have even bothered starting a business in the first place…

  49. Fleaman, you go ahead and get your organic goodies (which of course you KNOW has to be organic because Trader Joes says so) at your corporate chain and I’ll continue to support LOCAL farmers selling in-season food in my community.

    And while it’s arguable if TJs is actively discriminatory, their corporate plan involves only placing stores in “upscale” areas, and they don’t consider EP anything approaching high-falutin’.

  50. @Fleaman:

    “Unless these markets are sitting at the farms every day watching how they grow/harvest.”

    What makes you think the USDA, with their chronic shortage of inspectors, can do the same for all the farms nationwide to certify that their crops are legally able to be called organic?

  51. Zaius,

    Yes, I’ll purchase ‘organic’ labeled produce from markets that are regulated to buy them from farmers that are also regulated to produced under the organic label. If you have any evidence (oohh, scary!) that TJ’s is selling ‘fake’ organic goods, then post it. Of course that would be a rather stupid business move by TJ’s, as being caught doing so would harm their rep for years and years, hurting their biz and costing them lots of $$$. Probably not worth the risk, but hey, I guess you know better? Or at least some info we’re not privileged to? Nah, if you knew something you’d post it, I mean really, it’s not like you’d protect TJ’s, lol.
    As for your supposed ‘local farmers’, yeah that’s much safer. Oh wait, I have that scary thing called ‘evidence’ >>> http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Hidden-Camera-Investigation-Farmers-Markets-103577594.html

    As for TJ’s opening up stores in new areas? Last time I checked TJ’s is a business. Maybe you should refresh yourself on what the motive of a business is>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business

    I don’t know what you think TJ’s should ‘do’? Should they open up stores in areas in which they might fail? Like many other businesses have done? Perhaps one of the secrets to TJ’s success is their careful consideration as to where they open up new stores? If you had a job at TJ’s as the head of the dept that decides where to open up new stores, your argument to open up a EP store a mere 2 miles from the SL store is what?

    It’s no secret that TJ’s is a successful company. Perhaps you can derail that success with some ill placed store openings? Oh, and TJ’s is privately owned, it is NOT a corporation, if that is what you thought. So wrong again.

    Perhaps you might be thinking of something that’s called a non-profit? Or, something that might be run by the government?

    http://www.see-la.org/ (runs many of the eastside farmers markets) is a non-profit. Last I heard they are hurtin for $$$. Perhaps you should donate some of your hard earned $$$ to an organization you REALLY believe in and is in trouble? In fact, they run the EP farmers market. Put your money where you mouth is.

    Or even better, perhaps you can get a group of investors together, along with your own hard earned $$, and open up a TJ’s like store at the ‘Save a lot’ store? Really, what is your excuse? Show TJ’s what they’re missing? You’ll be successful on goodwill alone!!!

    Or, if that sounds too complicated and scary for you (it is halloween after all), why don’t you invest some of your hard earned $$ into that new Atwater Village farm market STORE>> http://atwatervillagefarm.com/
    Last time I checked, they were looking/needing investors. Here at least, you can take the easiest ‘put your $$ where your mouth is’ route. It’s exactly the type of store you believe in (I would think?), and if successful, you might even make some dough!?!?

  52. @virtutethecat,

    If you have some evidence that certified organic produce is ‘not’, then post it.

    I have no doubt that there is a chance ‘some’ produce in stores labeled as organic may not be. The question is, where are you gonna place your odds? With some ‘vender’ at some pop-up farmers market that just “says it’s so”?? Or with a more regulated process the stores and their farm venders have to go through?

    Oh, and look at my other post for ‘evidence’ that venders at farmers markets cheat. In fact, it was quite easy for the NBC to discover.

    Where’s your evidence?

  53. To be fair, I have no concrete evidence (studies, reports, etc) that non-organic products regularly get passed as organic at grocery stores, TJs, etc. (I shop regularly at TJs.) I seriously doubt that the USDA in its current form, when its budget is cut, can thoroughly inspect every single company/farm that wants to be certified organic. I have and continue to buy organic as well as conventional produce from grocery stores and from farmers’ markets.

    “I have no doubt that there is a chance ‘some’ produce in stores labeled as organic may not be. The question is, where are you gonna place your odds? With some ‘vender’ at some pop-up farmers market that just “says it’s so”?? Or with a more regulated process the stores and their farm venders have to go through?”

    I agree with your first sentence there. But I guess since I buy from both sources (local farmers’ markets AND grocery stores), I, like others, go with trusting how both of them vet their produce. People generally assume that when they buy a piece of fruit at Vons, that they won’t get food poisoning because it’s been inspected, even if the likelihood is that it probably wasn’t (at least, not individually inspected. I don’t think every single piece of fruit is looked at). I like the idea of supporting local farmers. As someone upthread mentioned, talking to a vendor, asking questions, even going on a tour of their farm and seeing how they talk about their work is a good experience.

  54. I like the idea of supporting local farmers too!

    That’s not what I was questioning. As mentioned, I questioned how one would know that the vender at a farmers market IS selling local farm produce, and if labeled ‘organic’, that it really IS organic.

    At the moment farmer market shoppers have only the venders ‘word’ and 99% (probably more like 99.9%) of them leave it at that. Sorry, but knowing how easy it is for them to cheat, and even if caught there really is no repercussions (legal or fiscal), so no real deterrent, it’s a receipt for taking the easy road.

    A certified organic farm will lose all their certification they went through (red tape and all) if caught cheating. That ‘red tape’ PITA process actually is a good deterrent for cheating. Why risk losing all that time/effort/$$/red tape, in getting certified and then cheat? Sure it probably happens, but they are risking a LOT more than a typical produce vender at a farmers market (a few guys and a van).

    Obviously the USDA (etc.) can’t inspect every single produce. It can only do it in a random manner. Still, it’s the same deterrent that prevents most of us from cheating on our taxes. What is the inspection process for farmers market venders? There isn’t even a random inspection process,….other than NBC doing a hidden camera inspection, and look at what they found….

  55. @fleaman
    Wondering if you are a professional blog commenter? 20+ comments on this posting alone is quite an accomplishment!

  56. Just found out that REI is planning to open a location here. There goes my paycheck.

  57. @lisal,
    Not a pro blogger by any count. Just playing devils advocate (as opposed to just saying ‘Booo!’ or ‘Yay’!), and you will find that most of those posts of mine are replying to those who posed arguments/questions against my posts. I posted my reasonings and links/evidence to back up my arguments. This seems the pragmatic way, no?

    Plus I asked a serious question (early in the comments) about ‘how’ one can guarantee or know if a farmer market venders ‘organic’ produce is as claimed. I thought perhaps someone might know of something I didn’t know about, but apparently not. You gotta just take their word for it. Or shop at TJ’s instead, lol 😉

  58. @fleaman You know and I know organic tastes fresher and better – taste will tell.

  59. Fleaman,
    Dude, I don’t have any “secret facts.” I shop at TJs and don’t care whether they open in EP or not (there’s one right near my work). I am not wealthy and I won’t be doing any financial investing. I love organic foods!

    But one “investigative report” on TV news is not going to erode my trust in the vendors I’ve built a relationship with. If you think I’m a chump or a rube for trusting someone, that’s your privilege. Let’s agree to disagree, as I’m finished with this topic.

  60. It is well known Trader Joe’s store placement policy has to do specifically with the education level of the community. Considering a majority of the population of Echo Park has no education past high school you can rest assured that there will be no Trader Joe’s here any time soon.

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