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End of an era: Bill's Market in Tempe closing after more than 60 years

Bill's Market Tempe
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 22:33:21-04

TEMPE, AZ — It’s the end of an era.

After serving the valley for more than 60 years, Bill’s Market in Tempe is closing its doors for good Saturday, June 18.

Hundreds walked into the family-owned market over the course of the past week.

Today it was order, after order, after order.

The line wrapping around Bill’s Market started to form as early as 1 a.m. Friday.

“There is nothing better than this chorizo,” said Eric Estrada.

Estrada has been coming here since he was 10-years-old.

“You couldn’t go anywhere else. You couldn’t find better chorizo anywhere except here,” he said.

Owner Bobby Figueroa says the business has always been a family affair.

“My Uncle Bill started it around 1961, and around 1984 he was talking about retiring,” he told ABC15.

He bought it in June of that year.

“It’s been my whole life… about 38 years and I’ve loved it,” he said.

Bobby says as the years went by, customers turned into familia.

“You know, I’ve seen kids, little kids come in and now they have kids and they’re coming in,” he said with a smile on his face.

Customers, who’ve been coming for decades, are also saddened by the news.

“It is emotional because it’s not going to be the same,” said Eliseo Romero, who has been coming to the market for more than two decades.

It’s a labor of love.

“I’m going to miss it,” added Romero.

It’s a place that has brought the community together for more than 60 years.

“Thank you so much,” Mary Figueroa, Bobby’s wife, could be heard saying at the cash registers inside Bill’s Market.

“A jewel in disguise,” said Elaine Gary.

Gary was among the lucky ones to walk out with five pounds of chorizo.

“Being someone of non-Hispanic ethnicity, thank you for such a wonderful feast,” she said while holding her chorizo package in a bag.

Others didn’t get so lucky.

ABC15 saw dozens of disappointed customers walking away. Some said, “This is the walk of shame,” as they left Bill’s Market.

“Why?” ABC15 asked.

“No more chorizo,” they responded.

All 600 pounds sold out within two hours of opening.

While it’s a bittersweet weekend, the Figeroa’s are ready to start their next adventure.

“I’m ready to retire. It’s been an excellent run,” said Bobby.

If you weren’t able to get your hands on some of this chorizo, Bobby’s grandkids say they’re planning on taking the family business online within the next couple of years.

In the meantime, Bill’s Market will be open on Saturday starting at 8am.