retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Chicago Tribune reports that a Whole Foods store in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood that opened six years ago "to live music, TV-ready politicians and out-the-door lines," that "once been a point of optimism and pride in the South Side neighborhood, one of Chicago’s most economically depressed areas," closed yesterday.

Here's how the Tribune puts the move in context:

"The city spent $10.7 million to subsidize the construction of the shopping center in which the store is located. When Whole Foods announced the 832 W. 63rd St. location’s closure in April, local activists said they felt betrayed, adding that the shuttering would limit access to fresh and healthy food in the neighborhood.

"The company closed five other stores across the country 'to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success' at the time, including a location near DePaul. It also opened an almost 66,000-square foot location in the Near North neighborhood the same week.

"Few grocery options remain in the neighborhood. The handful of grocery stores remaining include a location for low-budget grocer Aldi close by and the smaller 'Go Green Community Fresh Market' run by the nonprofit Inner-City Muslim Action Network. Another nearby Aldi in Auburn Gresham abruptly closed in June.

"It is not yet clear what will replace the Whole Foods. The sale agreement with the city requires a full-service grocery store to operate in the Englewood Square development until late 2027."

KC's View:

Can't help but feel that the folks on Chicago's South Side, who may have seen their Whole Foods store as a harbinger of hope and possibility, may see the Amazon commercial above with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

Look, I know that businesses have to be viable to survive.  If you don't have enough customers and don't make enough sales, you have to close the store.

But I think it is a shame that a company with the resources of Amazon/Whole Foods can't dig deep into its bag of innovation tricks to find a way to change the lives of people who need better food shopping options.  Maybe "shame" is the wrong word … but certainly a lost opportunity.