Whole Foods Market plans to close its Englewood store after opening the grocery with great fanfare just six years ago.
The Englewood store as well as another one in the DePaul University Welcome Center in Lincoln Park are among six stores the grocery chain plans to close nationwide. The company was not specific about closing dates, saying the stores will close in the coming months.
“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores. We are supporting impacted Team Members through this transition and expect that all interested, eligible Team Members will find positions at our other locations,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said Friday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Whole Foods' decision to leave Englewood "obviously disappointing."
"My immediate worry is for the workers in both locations. Amazon must now take clear steps to protect those workers as they transition to new opportunities," Lightfoot said in a statement. "Having been in both of those stores many times over the years, I saw first-hand how those workers gave their heart and soul to make the stores a success. Together with both communities and local elected leaders, my administration will work to repurpose these locations in a way that continues to serve the community and support the surrounding businesses. We as a city will continue to work hard to close food deserts that meet community needs with community at the table.”
Shoppers at the Englewood market were shocked to hear Friday about the store’s closing.
Phillip Backstrol was thrilled when the store opened six years ago. The 65-year-old prefers to shop at Whole Foods for the variety of organic vegetables.
“I thought it was great,” said Backstrol.
Now, Backstrol will need to drive downtown to find those vegetables.
Local Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) could not be reached for comment.
Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said she’s “sad,” but not at all surprised that the store derisively known as “Whole Paycheck” was closing its doors.
Taylor represents a South Side ward that includes Englewood with a border across the street from the Whole Foods store.
“The community needs a grocery store. Whole Foods was just expensive. And a lot of people did not shop there. So, I understand it. But that should have been a community ask” to reduce store prices, Taylor said.
“It’s sad. But I hope that we do one of two things: That we convince another grocer to come. Or we have our own home-grown grocer. We’ve got to do something, though. We cannot waste that TIF money. And the community needs a grocery store.”
With relentless push from then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Whole Foods agreed to open the Englewood store amid concerns about whether residents of the impoverished South Side ward could afford to shop there.
The project depended on an $11 million city subsidy for site preparation that also required an expiring tax increment finance district to be extended while money was “ported over” from a neighboring TIF.