Shopping Local at Sammy’s Market
by Alison Lysakowski
As a child living in Swansea in the 1990’s, I never had a reason to enter the CFM (Convenient Food Mart) located at 528 North Douglas Avenue in Belleville. My family often drove past it to go to my grandparents’ house, making it a staple in my memory. Being a nostalgic person, the comforting connection between passing the CFM and visiting my grandparents felt lost when that corner location became closed for many years. Even though I had never entered it, I disliked that it became a ghost building, all boarded up with no activity, however strange it is for me to have cared. This year, that all finally changed.
On February 1st, 2015 (Superbowl Sunday), local resident Sammy Hamdan opened the doors of that building to welcome us to the new corner market in town, and called it Sammy’s Market. Over the past year, he has been updating key features in the store to make it both comfortable and attractive to his patrons. There are brand new marble countertops and equipment, a newly-laid ceramic tiled floor, and even the shelves are new.
During my first visit, I noticed there are a few projects in progress and wanted to know what Sammy is planning to do with them. There is a deli counter, with open space and a small sink behind it. There is also a small room visible through a glass window with a slot beneath it on the other side of the store, all under construction. I was excited when Sammy told me what is to come.
“We will be doing subs and pizza. We need a pizza oven and more merchandise first. Hopefully everything will be ready by October of this year.”
As for the glass window, Sammy’s Market will soon be offering a currency exchange, where guests can cash checks, buy money orders, and pay bills.
“People wanted to see a market, and I gave it to them.”
We would not typically conduct an entire grocery trip at a small place, but there are perfect explanations as to why it is beneficial to the community to have corner markets: If you drive several miles away to buy your groceries, and then realize close to home that you forgot to grab sour cream, you might drive all the way back to the grocery store. But if you live a few blocks from a corner market, the solution is right there in front of you. And why drive to buy candy when you can walk to an adequate source in five minutes? You will even get some exercise in and support a local business.
“Sammy’s Market is great because of its proximity to the Belleville MetroLink station,” says Shenee Booth, Collinsville resident. It only takes a few minutes to walk to Sammy’s Market once you get off the train. “If we want our public transit riders to be comfortable, and for our cities to be accessible to visitors, it is key to have destinations within walking distance to stations.”
Sammy’s Market has a great liquor and beer selection, lottery tickets, baby formula, a great line of groceries and snacks, and accepts Link and WIC.
Sammy says, “I have been working in stores for a long time, so why not have my own?” His experience and good intentions make for a great new corner market in Belleville. I am thoroughly pleased to see this building thrive once again- better than ever.