CHICAGO - Shoppers celebrated the opening of a new grocery store on Chicago’s South Side on Wednesday.
A new supermarket may not seem like big news, but the opening of the store shuts down a food desert – that’s a place where there are no groceries to buy.
Hundreds turned out for the opening of the local market by Shop and Save, especially with employees handing out free groceries to the first 500 customers.
“It’s a blessing, my family came in, I'm meeting new customers, I feel good,” said Notrice Thigpen, cashier.
The spot at 71st and Jeffrey used to be a Dominick’s, but that closed six years ago.
“We have to travel out the neighborhood then if we don't have transportation, we have to take public transportation - so this is actually a Godsend,” said Tyrin McNeal Sr.
It wasn't easy. Alderman Leslie Hairston believes discrimination kept stores away.
“I was declined by most grocery stores not just here in the city but in the surrounding states as well,” said Alderman Hairston, 5th Ward. “I was refused by everyone until I met the Jakubowskis.”
The alderman helped lure local grocers, the Jakubowskis, to open the store, with incentives such as $10 million in TIF funds.
“I call this a success because we want to be here and we have received such incredible, truly amazing support from the local community,” said Eva Jakubowski, store owner.
Even after the free groceries are gone, check-out the lines in the check-out lane go all the way down the aisles. It’s an indication of how ready people were for this store to open.
“I love it, I love it,” said Darcelle Irving. “I like the way it’s set up like -- ooh! I love it.”
The store promises to employ local people and serve local favorites as it works to feed a neighborhood's hunger.