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Figueroa Produce Closes Its Doors

The beloved but struggling grocery store closed its doors this week.

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. 

From Grub Street: 

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.”

JosephR February 27, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Will miss the McConnell's ice cream - the best brand there is and hardly anyone, other than Whole Foods and Gelsons carries it.
HPLA February 27, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Oh crap. And I'm not liking the landlord. If rents are going to be raised, then that whole strip mall needs to be cleaned up. It is filthy.
Timothy February 27, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Much of the produce at Figueroa was unappealing due to bad storage. On my visits there I would find moldy or rotting veg in the bins. Perhaps they would still be in business if this had not been the case.
Steve South of York February 27, 2013 at 11:40 PM
As much as I wanted to shop there often, which I did back in 2009-ish in spite of the slightly higher prices, it was hard to justify because the produce often wasn't fresh. Rotten veggies were the norm, I found. I like the product offering but the quality wasn't as it should have been. Sorry to see them close instead of improve.
Punky February 28, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Organix is a great market. Please keep it vegetarian/vegan. Please do not sell any type of meat.
ChickenBoyFan February 28, 2013 at 03:12 PM
FRESCO Market is the bomba! I find much nicer organic produce there, at better prices. The Coconut Dream ice cream is a dollar cheaper than Fig Produce. They have an awesome bakery. It is a great market,with really nice people working there. No organic meat sector yet, but Fig produce organic meat prices were out of control, higher than Whole Foods,in some cases,with poorer quality. And, I'm sure Artichoke would play there,if asked. Cluck
Maggie Thatcher February 28, 2013 at 03:28 PM
judging by the the local obesity it would seem true that "“higher concentration of people who are not educated about food.” .... but the prices of Figueroa Produce didn't really do anything to combat that. It was very expensive.
edem February 28, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I shall miss "da boyz". Where I went for my juicing supplies. I have to agree with HPLA above; if you're the landlord, and trying to raise rents, clean up the damn strip mall. It's a visual blight in Highland Park. Long Live Figueroa Produce; I wish them the best of luck in their next venture.
ChickenBoyFan February 28, 2013 at 04:28 PM
The HHPNC should write a letter to inform the owner that he has to clean up that strip mall. It is a terrible eyesore. I heard he is very Ebenezer Scroogy, but mostly like Mr. Potter,in" It's a Wonderful Life". But, even in the movies, they turned into kind old gentlemen,that wanted to help. Let's show him we have pride, and are willing to cheerfully help him get it done. Hell, if it works,we can build him a throne,put it on a float, and parade him down Figueroa in the Historic Highland Park Holiday Doo-Dah Parade.
Patricia Duran February 28, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Support Organix in Eagle Rock. Help them survive by giving them your suggestions and support. It is organic and part of the same family. Your support will help them survive and northeast L.A. needs all the healthy outlets possible!
Sara February 28, 2013 at 06:32 PM
A "large corporation" in that mall? That's hysterical. I generally liked shopping at Figueroa Produce, and I'm sorry to see it go, but in 5 years I never went to any other shop there. The parking lot is disgusting, the shops are super low-rent, a 99 cent store is the anchor tenant ... earth to landlord? What universe are you living in? Clean up the mall, get better small tenants, make this mall a place where people have a good reason to visit, and maybe then a "major corporation" will be interested in being there.
Maggie Thatcher February 28, 2013 at 06:49 PM
http://youtu.be/mu8QthlZ6hY
sila February 28, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Well, organic produce is hard to keep lookin pretty all the time. And it really does suck that people around here care more about gettin their nails did and gettin shiny rims than they care about what goes into your body.... you really are what you eat... if all you eat is junk..... well.....
Elijah H February 28, 2013 at 07:30 PM
I'll miss the grass-fed beef, and am disappointed that they're solely focusing on Organix. There's just not much appeal (to me) in shopping at a Vegan-only store. It really limits their potential customers to the wealthy few who are into that lifestyle.
Baird Martin February 28, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Great, like we need another CVS in that lot
Baird Martin February 28, 2013 at 07:50 PM
The owner's intentions are pretty clear, and as the owner he has a right to do whatever he wants. Still, there is a need for a stronger community council or organization that will agitate for small shop owners and ostensibly the people. With the thought that these areas are public trusts, there also has to be increased pressure on these greedy landlords that sat around and watched the community turn into garbage and are now looking to cash in on the hard work of others. This landlord has not done one thing to make that area presentable or safe and the only reason he is making any money these days is because of others. He's the taker, not the maker.
Nimby pimp February 28, 2013 at 07:59 PM
It is better to look marvelous...
Hooper Humperdink February 28, 2013 at 08:13 PM
I tried to make it out to Figueroa Produce but always pulled up short at Fresco (if riding through Hermon) or the Tuesday Old L.A. Farmer's Market in Highland Park. My kid loves the lil' shopping carts at Fresco and the farmer's market has a jumper. The din-din-a-go-go thing was cool, but I didn't see it bringing people into Figueroa Produce at all. The property owners of that ugly strip mall can't have expenses large enough to prevent them from maintaining that ugly lot. It is pretty typical in this area to have landlords who simply suck the rents up and let their properties fall off a cliff. We need some leadership from the private sector. The building I am in now has a landlord I like and respect - he is constantly pouring his life an energy into improving the building. The previous two landlords I've done business with were absentee cheap skates who couldn't have cared less about their building except for how much it helped pay for their suburban mortgages in La Puente.
HPGringo February 28, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Is this going to effect the Tuesday food trucks? For all the backlash against the landlord, and the ugly parking lot. One. Where is a pretty parking lot? Two. it's pretty cool he allows the food trucks on Tuesday in his ugly parking lot.
Tina Gulotta-Miller February 28, 2013 at 10:22 PM
The property owner lives in Pacific Palisades. A few people from the Garvanza community have tried to engage Mr. Reicher to plant trees in the parking lot and have had to enlist the help of the Council District office on more than one occasion regarding the incresed trash in his strip mall parking lot. If some of you are interested in working with the Garvanza Improvement Association in addressing the issues concerning the strip mall then please go to our FB page and message us about this. We welcome any and all community assistance on this topic.
la-agog February 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Tina - Great idea. Here's the link to the GIA: http://on.fb.me/Z0QIjC
Bob Bailey March 01, 2013 at 04:28 PM
A big corporation. Like whom pray tell. While I do like Walgreen's another drug store we need like screen door on a submarine. Oh no wait a pizza joint; No.
rebecca niederlander March 01, 2013 at 05:08 PM
wow! thank you for posting this. everyone should watch it. I love Organix. And it isn't just vegan, it is vegetarian. Many vegan and gluten-free options, but also eggs, milks, and dairy.
rebecca niederlander March 01, 2013 at 05:08 PM
wow! thank you for posting this. everyone should watch it. I love Organix. And it isn't just vegan, it is vegetarian. Many vegan and gluten-free options, but also eggs, milks, and dairy.
frank van neutra lautner March 02, 2013 at 06:39 AM
I found Fig Pro to be lacking in few regards (such as the produce) so I'm not surprised that the business failed. With that being said, Fig Pro was the one comparatively bright spot in an otherwise dumpy strip mall with a strangely configured and filthy parking lot. The landlord need to get his (or her) act together too.
Punky March 02, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Wealthy few? I'm certainly not wealthy and I shop at Organix.
wash March 02, 2013 at 10:49 PM
The meat deli was one of the main things I liked about FP. I wouldn't have much of reason to drive out of my way if they didn't carry meat.
wash March 03, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Went to Fresco today and was really pleased with the selection and prices. Wish I had heard of it earlier!
Mark Kimbrell March 05, 2013 at 11:26 PM
I noticed that Autozone is taking over the old vacant Pep Boys space on Figueroa and Ave 55. It makes me wonder if they're moving out of the strip mall they shared with Fig Produce. If so, it looks like the property owner is going to be short one major corporation. Or perhaps he has a larger plan in the works.
Mauricio Osorio May 19, 2013 at 08:17 PM
It's too bad about Fig Produce, most of it was in the works from the day they signed the lease. I'd chat with the owners about the struggle every time I visited, from he lease of well over 12K the contingencies etc that was part of the property. All combined to make a slim profit margin even thinner. I know that this isn't the end of the owners and it is part of what makes this country great, that they will be back with terrific foundation on what worked and what didn't. As for Mr. Riecher, he's the 2nd gen property owner who from all indications isn't changing anything soon.

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