retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Tribune reports that Mayor Richard Daley and executives at Walgreen have come to an agreement that will have the drug store chain “adding fresh fruit and vegetables at four stores by next week, bringing to 10 the number of such outposts on the city's South and West sides. Those impoverished areas of Chicago have been plagued by the lack of grocery stores after major chains closed some locations over the years.”

The stores “will offer more than 750 new food items, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meat and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs and whole-grain cereals,” the paper writes.

"I want to thank Walgreens for its commitment to making Chicago a better place and helping Chicagoans to live healthier lives," Daley said at a press conference outside one of the stores.

Mark Wagner, Walgreens executive vice president of operations and community management, added: “Walgreens has taken great pride in meeting the needs of Chicago communities since opening our first store on the city’s South Side 109 years ago. Today, we couldn’t be more pleased to provide additional basic staples that will inevitably help improve health outcomes for many in these previously underserved communities.”

The move by Walgreen comes as Walmart has brokered a deal with the unions and the city that will allow it to build dozens of stores in different formats around the city.
KC's View:
The picture in the Tribune, which features Daley and a Walgreen exec walking down the amply stocked food aisle of a Walgreen store, sends a powerful message - that this drug store chain offers an oasis in the food desert. Since expectations are that Walmart will take much the same approach, one has to wonder what the mainstream supermarket chains are thinking...