retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Sun Times that at a conference yesterday hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and First Lady Michelle Obama, it was announced that there are “plans to open 36 new grocery stores in communities across Chicago: 17 traditional grocery stores and 19 expanded Walgreens Co. stores that include fresh food. The majority of the stores will be located in communities with food deserts, as part of the Administration's ongoing commitment to expand access to fresh and healthy foods across in the city. The Mayor also announced that one of Chicago's major urban farm networks, Growing Power, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Walgreens Co. and Aldi to increase access not only to locally grown produce, but to job opportunities and economic development across its farm locations in Chicago.”

According to the story, “Supervalu Inc. will open a new Sav-A-Lot store by the end of 2011 in North Lawndale, and is working on new Sav-A-Lot stores in the Grand Boulevard, Austin, Near West Side, West Pullman, Morgan Park, Calumet Heights, West Englewood and Englewood communities. Roundy's Supermarkets Inc. announced plans to build three new Mariano's Fresh Markets stores in Bronzeville, South Chicago and Forest Glenn. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is finalizing three new stores on the south and southwest sides. And Aldi's Store Inc. will build a store in Roseland.”
KC's View:
The part of this announcement that intrigued me was the inclusion of Mariano’s as an answer to food deserts. Before I actually saw one, I would have said that the format sounded a lot more upscale than would seem appropriate ... but having visited one, I think that it is an interesting choice. Not only is there a real focus on price, but there’s also an effort to expand people’s palates and make good food more accessible. It’ll be an interesting way to approach the food desert problem, and I’ll be curious to see how it works.