Dominick's employees, customers prepare for end

December 27, 2013 (PARK RIDGE, Ill.)

By Saturday, all but one Dominick's store will shut down for good.

Employees and customers alike packed the parking lot at the Dominick's store in Park Ridge to say goodbye.

Renzo and Anita Piccoli have been shopping here for years.

"It was very sad, it's the end of an era for us," they said.

All of the carts are gone, and really, so is everything else.

Inside, the shelves are bare, the only part of the store with any food left is the Starbucks.

Jennifer Oikion says the feeling at work Friday is quite bittersweet.

"Everybody's upset," she said. "Everybody's like a family. Most of the people in this store in particular are actually, they've been here 25-40 years they are like family."

The store, along with 10 others, will be cleaned, upgraded, and reopened as a Mariano's store.

Four current Dominick's stores will be turned into Jewel stores, the 57 remaining Chicagoland stores will close.

Over 6,000 employees will lose their jobs.

"You're throwing 6,500 people into the unemployment pot," said Bruno Belmonte. "It's already saturated to begin with, now you're throwing all of these people on top of it."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has now created a Grocery Store Task Force, whose main focus will be to help, among other things, workers affected by the closing stores.

"I think it would be a very smart move for them to hire experienced, trained workers who understand the community, who live in the community, and understand what the food business is all about," said Alderman Joe Moore.

Other businesses are also offering a helping hand.

The International Training Academy in Schaumburg is a vocational school offering skin and healthcare training programs.

The institute is offering 100 scholarships for $1,000 each to laid off Dominick's workers:.

"The idea is that we will help people who want to we will help them retrain and enter the workforce and have other opportunities, said Anastasia Usova. "It doesn't matter if they are in their 40's, 50's or 60's they can get the skills and get a job with security."

The stores will close by noon Saturday. One of the doors will remain open so that customers may pick up their pharmaceuticals.

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