By Jordan Frias
Finding a way to memorialize Allen Seletsky is the goal of the Union Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA), which is collecting donations in his honor after his sudden passing.
Seletsky, 57, owner of The Five Seventy Market on Tremont Street, died on March 16 at Tufts Medical Center after spending several weeks in the hospital to the surprise of many residents who were baffled by the store’s “closed” sign that went up in late February.
He leaves behind two sisters and a son, Andrew Seletsky, who spent many summers at the store working alongside his father.
“We had been thinking of doing something since he was a longstanding, valuable member of the community,” Jamie Alan Fox, UPNA president, said about Allen. “We want to do something as a tribute to him.”
Fox had received many calls and e-mails in regards to Seletsky’s death, including one from Emily O’Connell, Seletsky’s life partner, who played a role in the overall design and concept of The Five Seventy Market, the former site of the Bostonian Market, which Seletsky previously owned.
“We wanted to have anything that anybody in the neighborhood could ever need,” O’Connell said. “We also wanted to give the neighborhood fresh food.”
Since its opening in 2008, The Five Seventy Market was known for selling everything from fresh-cut flowers to alcohol to smoothies and prepared meals. It was also known for Seletsky, its personable owner , Fox said.
“It had an important function in the neighborhood. It was unique in the sense that it wasn’t a 7-Eleven or a quick stop. [Allen] had interesting items for sale and excellent sandwiches and things that are a little different than what you’ll generally find in a convenience store,” he said.
Seletsky was also very active in the community as a UPNA board member, which is why it was a no-brainer to include the organization on the list of places people can donate to in his memory, according to O’Connell.
Donations in Seletsky’s name can also be made to The American Heart Association and The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay.
“Allen was assigned to a little brother when he was 26, so 30 years ago,” O’Connell said, referring to Newton native Jeff Wade, who spoke at his funeral. “Their pairing has been really unique in that it lasted 30 years.”
While talks of finding ways to commemorate Seletsky are in the works, the future of the store remains unknown. An outdoor memorial at Union Park will be planned once the weather gets warmer, Fox said, in addition to something more permanent in his honor.
“He was extremely people-oriented and we may not be able to replicate that, but we’re hoping something similar materializes in the neighborhood,” Fox said, referring to the store.
“Allen had these phrases, he had many phrases, but over the last four or five years he would always say that he was ‘living the dream,’” O’Connell said. “It really was his dream to have the best neighborhood market for the people he loved.”