Stink on Aisle 9: Sewage line ruptures under Chicago Walgreens

There was quite a cleanup underway on Aisle 9 at a Chicago Walgreens, as the mess had shoppers browsing right next to a serious sewer project.

The Walgreens on Wells and North Avenue in Old Town was partially closed on Wednesday and customers lined up outside, wondering why they couldn't wander the aisles.

"We were the first people in this line right here, and they said they couldn’t talk about it," said customer Melinda Schramm referring to the staff at Walgreens.

But the pharmacy chain did tweet about it and even retweeted a now viral picture showing a trench in the middle of the store, with workers deep in the dirt next to a sunscreen display.

Alexander Rivera was inside the store when the construction workers broke up the floor.  

"When they cut the floor you could see an indentation in the floor, it was like seeping," said Rivera.


When Alderman Brian Hopkins saw the photo Wednesday, he asked the store to shut down partially while crews kept working to fix the ruptured sewage line.

"We do have sewer lines collapse on occasion, that's not so unusual, but the location of this one in the very center of the store, under this sunscreen aisle, you know, was, was a problem when the floor started to collapse, I think the employees were a little bit freaked out about that," Hopkins said.

Walgreens released a statement in response to the situation that said:

"Like many necessary repairs, the project was much bigger than originally scoped. We have closed the store temporarily while the contractor assesses the site before the project moves forward. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and are doing everything we can to reopen as soon as possible. The temporary closure will not impact vaccine appointments."

Customers have been able to pick up prescriptions and get COVID vaccines at the front of the store, which is away from the sewer line.

"Walgreens' management training manual doesn't have a chapter for what to do when your sunscreen aisle suddenly starts collapsing into the earth," said Alderman Hopkins.