Houston landmark set to close down

December 26, 2007 3:38:32 PM PST
It's been a neighborhood institution for more than 50 years, but come Monday, JMH Market in West University will be closing its doors. Jay Cabeen has been shopping at the JMH grocery store on Rice at Edloe since he was a kid. But after 60 years in business, the West University tradition will soon be closing its doors for good.

"The property is very expensive in this neighborhood. It's gone way up in the years and so a grocery store is typically low margin and so it's tough," said owner Michael Freeman.

It's tough for Freeman and nearly unbearable for nearby residents who think of JMH as a neighborhood landmark.

"My reaction was, I started to cry," said Cabeen.

JMH is no ordinary store. There, customers could still sign up for old fashioned store credit. In fact, house accounts made up 40 percent of the business.

"I have third and fourth generation people coming in here," said Freeman. "Great grandkids and so forth, so it means a lot. Some people come back here and it was their first job and now they're doctors and lawyers or whatever and now their kids are coming in."

Mark Cleary shopped there as a kid. Years later, he took his first job as a JMH cashier.

"I think 'miss' is an understatement," he said. "I think this has been a pretty big part of growing up in Houston and over the few years I was in college, I would come back and it'd gradually change. I thought the changes were for the better. It really is going to be sad to see it go."

Everything in the store is now 50 percent off. Slowly, the shelves are emptying and on New Year's Eve, JMH will be only a memory for longtime shoppers like Cabeen.

"A throwback to a time and an era where life was more simple," he said. "And that's what it reminds me of. It reminds me of the simple times when things weren't so complicated."

The owners says he's not exactly sure what'll happen next. The property is up for sale.