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When you can walk into a market and find just about anything you want in the perfect amount, and there’s a good shot that employees know you by name, you know youve walked into a very special place.

Thats the experience shoppers have come to expect when they walk into Potash Markets. Art Potash, Potash Markets CEO and Owner,  knows his family has created something special in Chicago.

Potash Markets got started in 1950 when my Uncle Herb, my Uncle Dave, and my father worked together to open a store not far from here,” says Potash. “My father was a great example. He led by example. He walked his talk. I was able to learn from him. And he gained the respect of everybody he worked with and people who worked for him.”

Today, Potash Markets has locations near Chicago’s Magnificent Mile where the business stands out as an anchor in this community. Art Potash says he knows the value of not only stocking products, but also knowing his customers and what they need every time when they walk through the doors of Potash Markets.

A lot of people have told us that it’s kind of like the old country store in the city,” explains Potash. And we encourage our employees to really help customers and listen to what they want.”

Taking good care of customers is the foundation upon which Potash Markets was built and is at the core of its culture today.

I remember a past Thanksgiving when we closed the store the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, and a customer knocked on the door as we were closing,” recalls Potash.  They had a fire in their apartment building and their Thanksgiving was shot. The customer needed to get some food for Thanksgiving. So I opened the doors, and it was just me and my customer.  I got them turkey, some stuffing, and all the things they needed (at no charge). So they were able to have some kind of Thanksgiving, and they were always grateful. It is years later, and we still talk about it.”

No matter what is happening in the world, Art Potash says he is aware that his community is counting on the market.

The weather outside today is terrible, and the schools are closed, but we’re here. We’re open because we’re here for our customers, and they need somewhere to go. Because inevitably, when you’re an urban dweller and you live in an apartment, you need something today,” says Potash.

Arts nephew Max Potash says he also believes that serving his neighbors is the foundation of the business.

To me, it’s all about the customer. We love providing a service to the community. Being a part of the neighborhood is something we’re really proud of,” says Max.

The secret sauce of Potash Markets is both from a product and a people standpoint,” says Art Potash. We carry smaller products. We offer more sizes, smaller sizes, like in our deli department, and our meat department, and we offer smaller sizes in packaged goods. On the people’s side, we’re there to help. If they need something, if they want to request an item, and they know that if we can get the item, we’ll bring it in.”

Potash stresses that his employees have been essential to the success of Potash Markets. The longest-serving employee right now at the business has been with Potash for 60 years.

She joined us when she was 15 years old. She still works part-time at our Clark Street location. And she worked obviously for my father and my uncles. She enjoys working for us. She told me at one time that the rapport that she had, the relationship that she had with my father and with me is the reason that she continues to come into work,” said Potash with a smile.

“If I could advise a new retailer, I would suggest that they, first of all, be open-minded, and second of all, stay to their core values, things like honesty, trustworthiness, being conscientious, and doing the right thing,” says Potash.  “I think, I think one thing that retail offers that the retail industry doesn’t get enough credit for is that the retail industry offers a wide variety of opportunities. It offers opportunities for people for their first job.  A lot of life lessons are learned at the entry level when you come into retail. And then we can also help a person with a long-term career job if they want. If you want to work your way up to be a store manager for a smaller company like ours, you can do that.”

Art Potash says he believes in the retail industry and wants retailers to succeed across Illinois.

 “I think that legislators need to know that retail is more important than I think we get credit for,” explains Potash. “Retail can be more than just a job. It can be a great profession. It can be something that you’ll be excited about, something that’s new every day, and something that, you know, they say, if you enjoy what you do, you never really work a day in your life. And the grocery business and retail in general offer those kinds of opportunities.”

Art Potash understands that the ability to change is another key to helping Potash Markets thrive in years to come.

“The key is to continue to change and be flexible with whatever comes our way and do it in a way that serves our customers and serves the business,” explains Art.

“I think it’s important that Illinois supports retail because the operators that operate in neighborhoods, a neighborhood really doesn’t become a neighborhood until a grocery store is there,” says Art.

If the store is doing well, then the neighborhood is doing well. And if the neighborhood is doing well, then the society is doing well. And that's how you build a good society, a healthy society, one step at a time, starting with how they get their food.

If the culture of Potash Markets is any indication, Art and Max Potash are certainly helping to build a better Chicago, one happy Potash Market customer at a time.

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