This March 2010 file photo shows shoppers in the produce section of the 17th Street Market, which announced Wednesday that it was closing at the end of March.

Hard-to-find Asian foods, fruits, produce, teas, spices, snacks and seasonings soon will be a little more difficult to come by in Tucson when the 17th Street Farmers Market closes.

The market, which started with produce sales on the company loading dock, grew during it’s 20 years into the place to find exotic fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, and just about everything needed for the budding foodie — or the experienced chef — to cook up Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes.

Far different from chain grocery stores, the 17th Street Farmers Market, at 840 E. 17th Street, is housed in a warehouse surrounded by railroad tracks. It features aisle after aisle of colorfully packaged pre-made foods; a massive, refrigerated produce room with what is likely the largest selection of organic produce in Tucson; and a variety of fish, meat, sausage and cheese.

Despite a following of regular customers, the market has been steadily losing money in recent years, J.J. Farr, assistant store manager, said.

“There are a lot of stores out there that are competing ... and we can’t do it anymore. We’ve tried to keep it going here, but it’s a downward spiral for us,” Farr said.

The store will remain stocked with fresh produce and frozen meats until it closes sometime in late March. Once the dry goods — which are now on sale — run out the market will close, Farr said.

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Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.