West Point Market was an Akron institution. Unfortunately, I’m using the past tense – West Point closed its doors last week. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the closing sale. I’m sure there were some great deals, especially on wine, but It felt too much like scavengers picking over the bones.
Wine is what brought me to West Point Market. I got into wine around the same time I moved to Akron, twenty years ago. Everyone said to check out West Point – and they were absolutely correct. I bought my first mixed case there, with the help of their salespeople, and was back for many more cases after that.
The summer after we moved in, I got a grill for my new house, and that was the start of my love affair with food. Back then, for an enthusiastic home cook, West Point was the only game in town. Specialty ethnic ingredients? Le Creuset cookware? Exotic cheese? Prime beef? It was my go-to destination for a few years.
This blog’s first big boost was from winning West Point Market’s Finest Cut Steak Cook-Off. Steak recipes are everywhere, but a recipe that won a cook-off? That gets enough notice to get shared on “best of” lists1 and was my first mention on some larger food sites.
Unfortunately, by then I had drifted away from shopping at West Point. Grocery stores improved their international sections, specialty wine shops opened, and I sought out local ethnic markets for exotic ingredients. And…we had kids. I couldn’t afford to be a wine and grocery snob while feeding a family of five. I would visit the wine department a couple times a year, treating myself with a mixed case from their “$12 and under” rack to get the 10% case discount, and add in a few pricier recommendations from the (always helpful) wine staff.
When I heard West Point was closing, selling the land for a Whole Foods, I was sad, but I can’t say I was surprised. The food world has changed in the twenty years since I started going there. I heard a rumor that they will be re-opening as a specialty shop – wine, cheese, maybe baked goods (like their famous Killer Brownies) – and I really hope that’s true. Focusing on what they did best, especially the wine, feels like the best way to keep the legacy of West Point alive.
I say that with a heavy heart. This is one of the times I wish I could stick my head in the sand, and not know how the world works. Because, deep down, I know I was part of the problem. I didn’t shop there often enough to help keep them open. I had plenty of reasons – too expensive, too far away, changes in my tastes – but it still hurts.
Farewell, West Point Market. I hope we meet again soon.
Jane Snow’s “Dear West Point Market” inspired this post. She has deeper history with West Point Market than I – if you enjoyed this post, check out her article.