Posted on September 19, 2023

Chicago Mayor Proposes City-Owned Grocery Stores as Walmart, Whole Foods Exits Leave ‘Food Deserts’

Shannon Thaler, New York Post, September 18, 2023

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said he wants to open city-owned grocery stores to serve neighborhoods that have become “food deserts” after four Walmart stores and a Whole Foods closed.

Johnson announced last week that his administration would partner with the nonprofit advocacy group Economic Security Project to put stores in underserved areas of the city — a proposal Republicans called something out of “Soviet-style central planning.“

Four other Chicago Walmarts are still open, which the chain said in a statement “continue to face the same business difficulties, but we think this decision gives us the best chance to help keep them open and serving the community.”

When The Post reached out to Walmart for comment, a company spokesperson pointed to the April press release, which said “that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago.”

Last November, Whole Foods closed in Englewood after six years in the South Side lot — one year before Whole Foods’ seven-year lease was up with its landlord, DL3 Realty.

The location boasted very affordable prices for the grocer’s infamously-overpriced organic goods.

However, as the years went on, items at the Englewood Whole Foods became too expensive for the neighborhood’s residents, and the store was often empty at peak shopping times, like Saturdays, according to local outlet Block Chicago.


Republican politicians in the Democrat-run Windy City blasted the plan as something out of “Soviet-style central planning.”

“Take all the problems private chains face in low-income areas, then add in amateur management by a bureaucracy, Chicago-style political corruption in hiring and contracting, and a limited range of products,” said Steve Boulton, the chairman of the Chicago Republican Party.


Neither Walmart nor Whole Foods disclosed exactly why they suffered continued losses over the years.

One explanation could be the shoplifting epidemic taking over America, which has seen retailers struggling to cope with the consequence-less pilfering, stripping them of revenue that’s also led to the closure of a “landmark” grocery store in Baltimore that shut its doors after nearly 25 years.

Experts have blamed the surge on lax policies {snip}