More than just coals and bowls, the 53rd Street Mini Mart, located at East 53rd Street and South Dorchester Avenue, is now open for business.
The mini-mart, which began welcoming customers September 26, carries traditional convenience items as well as a wide selection of tobacco-related and hookah-related products. Open seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., the store’s hours and eclectic item selection reflect what manager Freddy Allam sees as the needs of the local community, including those of UChicago students.
“I keep longer hours than most [competing stores], because it isn’t unreasonable for students to want food at 11 p.m.,” Allam said.
Citing the CVS a block to the west, Allam believes that his store distinguishes itself from major chains through a combination of competitive pricing and quality customer service.
“We can’t carry the same number of brands [as CVS or Walgreens], but we carry all the same types of items, and for a lower price,” he said. “We stock the main and necessary items that students and families need.”
According to Allam, the store aims to honor customer requests for new products.
“Acting on every customer request is just the way I do business. Regardless of whether it’s a specific type of soap, food, or medicine, we get it in. If we don’t carry it, what’s the point of having the door open?” he added.