Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WBEZ: Why does South Shore still not have a grocery store?
71st & Jeffrey by Eric Allix Rogers/flickr
[AUDIO] While it seems Mariano's is interested in moving to South Shore in the near future, we still have a storefront that one housed a major grocery store that remains vacant. Mariano's snatched many former Dominick's locations throughout the Chicago area so far seems unwilling to snatch up the former Dominick's space at 71st & Jeffrey.

WBEZ presents this write-up and the audio which is embedded below

Here's an excerpt of the write-up
South Shore organizers are taking steps to make sure that happens. They’ve hosted several community meetings, circulated a survey and met with city officials. In some ways their fight for a grocery store is part of a larger struggle playing out across the city. The intersection of race and retail often leaves African-American consumers short on access to goods and services. Even basic ones like where to shop for dinner.

This is especially true on the South Side where many neighborhoods, regardless of income, are food deserts. Juxtapose this with some areas on the North Side awash in grocery stores. Recently, residents of Wicker Park rejected a new Trader Joe’s due to traffic concerns.

Over the past decade, more grocery stores have opened in Chicago overall. But many on the South and West Sides feel left out when their only nearby food options are discount chains.

“On the South Side of Chicago in general, we experience retail redlining. There’s a certain kind of marketing. When we talk about institutional racism, it’s the dismissal of communities that have income and that expendable income,” [South Shore resident Anton Seals] said.

South Shore is a dense, truly mixed-income neighborhood. Mansions and multi-unit apartment complexes share alleys. The community has a median income of $28,000 but there are thousands of households earning more than $75,000.
Mari Gallagher is a researcher and expert on food access issues and said South Shore has really been a misunderstood market for a long time.

“There’s a lot of buying power in South Shore. And I know from the research and I know anecdotally people who live in South Shore who go all the way down to Roosevelt Road or Hyde Park to do their shopping. There’s a lot of leakage, money leaving these neighborhoods,” Gallagher said.

She said black Chicago has long struggled to nab quality retail. Billions of dollars leave the community each year and are spent in other neighborhoods.

“And it’s not necessarily because they can’t support it as a consumer base and certainly people do eat as part of the human condition,” Gallagher said.

Target Market News is a consumer research group that tracks black spending and found that black households traditionally outspend whites and Latinos on fruits and vegetables and items that have to be cooked to be eaten. In the Chicago area they spend approximately $240 million on fresh produce annually.

“So why do certain neighborhoods have quality grocery stores and other neighborhoods have none or just very very few, perhaps one?” Gallagher said, adding that changes in the grocery industry perpetuate this gap.
Lots of questions but so far no solid answers. All we know about Mariano's is that their CEO Bob Mariano doesn't like the 71st & Jeffrey location. And perhaps there are some issues with the owner of this property who reportedly lives in Los Angeles or with the property itself. Beyond that why is no other grocer interested in this location?

 We've had people share their thoughts on this subject I hope someone out there has something new to report or opine.

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