Harvard Market closes after 106 years

An apartment complex and CVS Pharmacy will replace the University of Minnesota institution.

Assistant Manager Dana Kabitzki takes a cigarette break Saturday outside the Harvard Market in Stadium Village.  The corner store will close after 106 years of operation on campus.

Mark Vancleave

Assistant Manager Dana Kabitzki takes a cigarette break Saturday outside the Harvard Market in Stadium Village. The corner store will close after 106 years of operation on campus.

by Jennifer Bissell

After 106 years on campus, Harvard Market is closing at midnight today to make room for a new luxury apartment project.
The incoming complex will include a CVS/pharmacy, but until that opens in August 2012, Stadium Village will be without a grocery store.
Assistant Manager Dana Kabitzke said sheâÄôs been directing customers to the Metro Petro gas station five blocks away and to Dinkytown, nine blocks away, while the neighborhood waits.
âÄúWe really are the only store and sometimes you just need a thing of milk or eggs,âÄù she said. âÄúThereâÄôs nowhere you can get that without walking a mile or having to take a bus.
âÄúI think it would have been a better idea to put in another grocery store [than a pharmacy],âÄù she said.
Kabitzke said she has worked at the market for six years, including the last three since she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007.
 âÄúThereâÄôs something about this place âĦ You get a lot of drunk people and homeless people, in addition to the students,âÄù she said. âÄúYou can go on autopilot at most jobs but here itâÄôs something different every night. You could fill a book of things that happen here.âÄù
Students shopping Saturday morning for last minute ingredients and snacks expressed their frustrations with the closing.
âÄúWe usually come here just because we donâÄôt have a car,âÄù University sophomore Jennifer Webeler said, holding a bag of mozzarella for a pizza she and a friend would later make. âÄúI wouldnâÄôt buy a weekâÄôs worth of groceries here just because it is expensive. But once it is gone IâÄôll probably be like, âÄòOK, where am I going to go now?âÄôâÄù
Sophomore Lydia Veeder agreed.
âÄúItâÄôs just one of those hole-in-the-wall places thatâÄôs always been around,âÄù Veeder said. âÄúItâÄôs like a tradition almost. If you graduated like 20 years ago youâÄôll probably remember Harvard Market, just like you remember Campus Pizza.
âÄúItâÄôs just like one of those things that people in the past know about and now itâÄôs gone.âÄù
Gerald Reedy, who lives just a couple blocks away, said heâÄôs been going to Harvard Market every other day for the past 15 years.
He usually picks up items like milk, bread and butter but said he wasnâÄôt sure what heâÄôd do without the store.
âÄúIâÄôm sorry to see it go,âÄù Reedy said. âÄúWe need a grocery store.âÄù
âÄúIâÄôll have to make a big, long trip just for milk,âÄù he said.
Construction to begin in February
The original Harvard Market stood on Washington Avenue Southeast and Harvard Street Southeast and was established in 1904.
Brad Mateer, the current Harvard Market owner, bought the grocery store in 1996 and later sold it after setting up the current location in 1997. For a short time, the market had two locations.
Mateer said he left the original location because he couldnâÄôt afford the upkeep. Similar problems forced him to sell the current building, which included Photo Dock and Campus PizzaâÄôs old locations, as well.
âÄúIt was more than I could financially handle,âÄù Mateer said, noting it would be difficult to come up with the money to make the needed improvements on the building.
âÄú[Student housing] really makes sense for the area,âÄù he said. âÄúWe have a new stadium. We have new excitement on campus. We have a lot of different things going on, and it really seemed like the right decision for the community itself.âÄù
Opus Development Corp., the company managing the construction of Stadium Village Flats, has been pursuing plans for the space for three years but had repeatedly delayed construction due to the slow market and restructuring of the business.
Construction is now scheduled to begin in February with the demolition of Harvard Market and the building next door, which most recently held a fortune-telling business.
Originally Stadium Village Flats was going to be twice as large, knocking out even more buildings, including the Oak Street Cinema. But the developers later decided to scale down the project to better meet the neighborhoodâÄôs housing needs.
News of the incoming apartments prompted Campus PizzaâÄôs owner to relocate the restaurant across Washington Avenue in 2009. The move proved costly for owner, Jim Rosvold, who has said that he lost thousands of dollars on rent from moving from their old location.
After the space was vacant, however, Mateer said he invited the University Christian Ministry Association and various religious groups to use the space for free.
Serenity Ward, president of the Christian group Campus Ambassadors, said it was invaluable to have the centralized location at their disposal.
âÄúI donâÄôt know how the [UCMA] will be able to fill the void once thatâÄôs gone,âÄù Ward said. âÄúIt was a wonderful opportunity to be there.âÄù
Reflecting on his 14 years on campus, Mateer said he had always tried to put the community first.
âÄúItâÄôs our people that are important,âÄù Mateer said. âÄúWeâÄôve tried to serve the community for years.âÄù