A work crew swept away dust along the tops of a row of coolers and hauled out equipment as Highland Park's Figueroa produce was disassembled on Wednesday afternoon.
The closure of organic-leaning grocery store came with little fanfare; only a paper sign on the front window announcing "50-percent Off Everything" suggested that something may be amiss. The grocer's Twitter feed sent a message to a follower on Sunday, Feb. 24 denying that they were closing down.
"We are just having a big sale, come on in and ask us about it," the Tweet stated.
On Wednesday, the fate of Figueroa Produce could no longer be denied. A manager, who declined to share his name, confirmed that the store was closing down and that the owners would from now on focus their efforts on Organix, an Eagle Rock grocery stored owned by the same Perez family who opened Figueroa Produce five years ago.
An article posted on Grub Street last month indicates that the owners of Figueroa Produce were forced out by a landlord looking to cash in on Highland Park's growing cache.
In additional news of Highland Park landlords giving the heave-ho to long-standing tenants is five-year-old Figueroa Produce, the healthy-leaning York Boulevard market owned by Ruben Perez and Luis Quismorio. The partners are also trying to hold on to their livelihoods amid news that the owner of their building is also seeking a new tenant, preferably a "big corporation," raising the rents dramatically in the process.
Though beloved by its customers, Figueroa Produced had struggled in recent years. In May of 2012, The Eastsider LA reported that Figueroa Produce owner Ruben Perez had fallen behind on rent and was struggling to renegotiate.
In August of 2011, Highland Park-native Perez told Patch that he opened Figueroa Produce with the mission of educating the community about the value of eating healthy food.
Perez noted that among long-time residents of the Highland Park community, though, there is a “higher concentration of people who are not educated about food.” Perez‘s parents, for instance, “grew up cooking with lard as part of a typical, Mexican diet.” Perez said that part of the Figueroa Produce mission statement is to “educate people that we are what we eat. We want to help people realize that for 99 cents, they can buy a fast food burger and feed one person, or [they can buy] vegetables and feed two people in a healthy way.”