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Last Round-Up For Pioneer Market

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LA Times story about the closure of Echo Park supermarket, Lox, Stock and Pickle Barrel Go as Old Market Closes, reminds LAist that we're losing a crucial neighbor.

Pioneer helped us to avoid crossing picket lines while questing for milk during the dark days of the great Supermarket Strike of '04, now a not-distant-enough memory.

Last night at 9, Pioneer closed its doors for good. Times staff writer, Nita Lelyveld," tells us:

"Pioneer will close early — and for good. Walgreens has leased the building from the market's longtime owner, Leonard Leum, who said the store was done in by soaring workers' compensation insurance costs.

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"I'm crying. I cry. Everybody's crying," said Juanita Morales, 69, a Pioneer customer for nearly 40 years, as she stood in the parking lot this week, clutching a store shopping bag, with its old-time covered-wagon logo and slogan, "Courteous Service and Low Prices Too."

[Store owner, Leonard] Leum, 78, said he feels terrible about closing, especially for his veteran staff — for whom he's trying to find new jobs. But staying open was no longer an option, he said. This year, Pioneer paid $240,000 in workers' comp insurance, quadruple the cost of the same coverage five years ago. The big chains self-insure, he said, but "the cost of doing business with just one store is getting horrific."

Another paradise paved over in the name of progress.