Whole Foods abandons Englewood
After six years, Whole Foods is shutting down its Englewood store.
Why it matters: When the store was breaking ground in 2014, former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said it was aimed at bringing food "education'' and "fresh, healthy food choices" to the area.
- Some also saw it as a litmus test for the viability of premium food stores in low-income areas — not to mention a test of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's commitment to revitalizing Englewood.
- But a year after the Englewood location opened, WBEZ's Natalie Moore reported mixed results and disappointing sales.
- "We haven't done the kind of business we wanted to do," Robb told Moore in 2017.
The latest: Despite Robb's original mission, those sales finally drove the company to cut bait this week.
What they're saying: "We regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores [nationwide]," a Whole Foods spokesperson said in a statement to Axios.
- Notably, those six stores don't include the experimental New Orleans and Detroit stores.
Local reaction: "Corporations have a history of pulling out of our communities, taking our food sources away," local congressional candidate Jahmal Cole wrote on Facebook Friday.
Yes, but: Cole said the closing also presents an "opportunity" to support local solutions like the newly opened Go Green Community Fresh Market, which brings "healthy, fresh foods to our communities in a way that's affordable and accessible."
- Starbucks and Chipotle, which opened in the wake of Whole Foods' debut, remain in the Englewood Square shopping area.
- And an Aldi operates just two blocks away.
What's next: A Whole Foods spokesperson says the company will close the Englewood store in "coming months" as well as a location near DePaul this Friday.
- They say they "expect that all interested, eligible Team Members will find positions at our other locations."
Remaining stores: Whole Foods will still operate 11 stores in Chicago including one in the South Loop and one in Hyde Park.
Monica's thought bubble: I hope this doesn't put an end to experiments aimed at bringing healthier food options to low-income communities.
- But I am also interested to explore how the Detroit and New Orleans stores, opened around the same time, thrived in ways the Englewood store didn't.
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