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Like every major U.S. city, Chicago has its share of food deserts. To help mitigate this situation, city officials and business leaders have been actively working to find
retail grocery solutions for some of its most-challenging neighborhoods. In the latest move in this direction, the City of Chicago and Whole Foods Market have announced that they have reached an agreement to open an 18,000-square-foot store at the corner of South Halsted and West 63rd streets in Englewood, one of the poorest and most-violent neighborhoods in Chicago (see the Chicago Tribune “Crime in Chicago” for more details).
While admitting that the prices at Whole Foods might be a little steep for many of Englewood’s residents, Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb told CBS News: “The commitment we’re making, and our team is making, is we recognize we’re coming to Englewood, recognize this is a community we haven’t served, and we’re recognizing that it’s important to be affordable and accessible. So we’ll make that general commitment; exactly how that will show up, we’ll sort that through.” (See “Whole Foods to Open Store in Englewood” from CBS Chicago for its complete report.)
Michael Bashaw, president, Midwest, Whole Foods, told Crain’s Chicago Business that the prices at the new store in Englewood will be “a little less” than in other stores in other neighborhoods, thanks to lower overhead from a small building and the company’s work with suppliers to keep wholesale prices down (see “Milk Money: Comparing Prices at Whole Foods, Rivals”).
In the CBS story, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he wants to be sure that retailers give everyone in the city “a shot at great quality,” and that “a lot of people in parts of the city feel like they never get these top-quality choices.”
Currently, the only other full grocery store in the Englewood neighborhood is an ALDI.
This announcement that Whole Foods is planning a store for one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago catalyzed a cost-comparison exercise between store brand products at Whole Foods and other grocers (see chart).
Product comparisons were made between prevailing private labels at each retailer (365 Everyday Value at Whole Foods; Essential Everyday at Jewel; Pantry Essentials, Lucerne, and Safeway brand at Dominick’s; and Trader Joe’s brand at Trader Joe’s). Crain’s also compared bananas, apples, chicken breasts, and ground beef, including some organic products. Review their report for complete details.
The new development at the corner of 63rd and Halsted Streets will also house other retail locations and a park. Construction on the new Whole Foods store is expected to be complete in 2016.