Walmart closing stores across Chicago
CHICAGO - Walmart announced on Tuesday they are closing four stores across Chicago.
The four locations shutting down are in Chatham, Kenwood, Lake View and Little Village.
The retail giant pointed to dwindling profits as the main reason it is shuttering those locations.
"The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago – these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years," the company said in a statement.
The following stores will be closed by Sunday, April 16:
- #5781 Chatham Supercenter, the Walmart Health center, and the Walmart Academy, 8431 S. Stewart Ave.
- #3166 Kenwood Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
- #5645 Lakeview Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway St.
- #5646 Little Village Neighborhood Market, 2551 W. Cermak Road
Associates in the closing stores will be eligible to transfer to another Walmart location, the company announced Tuesday.
Alderman Howard Brookins, who championed the Chatham location opening, said, "Even their own statistics show only half of the employees will follow Walmart to a different location and it will be compounded because Jewel and Food For Less have the same parent company. One of those stores might close."
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Pharmacies at the closing Walmart locations will remain open for at least 30 days to serve customers.
Walmart said they tried several different strategies to remain profitable at the failing stores, but none of their changes reflected improvement.
"Over the years, we have tried many different strategies to improve the business performance of these locations, including building smaller stores, localizing product assortment and offering services beyond traditional retail," the company’s announcement said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’s incredibly disappointed by the decision, and that it’ll "create barriers to basic needs for thousands of residents."
Father Michael Pflegar called the closures, "a total disrespect to the city."
On South Sawyer, there’s also a Walmart Academy offering skilled trade and college prep classes. The organization hopes to find someone to lead the Academy, so it can stay in the community.
"For seniors like me, it’s convenient to come and get your medicine," one shopper said.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced the closure of three other stores in the Chicago area.
Chicago Residents React
Regina Dickey went for an appointment at a new primary care clinic in Chatham on Tuesday. Newly furnished and close to home, she thought she’d come back and was disappointed to learn she’d never get the chance.
Dickey, 38, is in fine health, but the clinic where she went and the store it’s attached to – a Walmart supercenter on the South Side – is not, according to its owners.
The supercenter is one of four Chicago stores that Walmart announced Tuesday will close by Sunday, joining other grocery stores — particularly on Chicago’s South and West sides — that have closed in recent months.
"This is going to cause a lot of issues for people in the community," Dickey said. "Not cool."
Dickey said she shopped there and at the Walmart in Kenwood (also closing) regularly.
"It’s like they didn’t even give a thought to the people in these communities," Dickey said.
After these closures, four Walmart stores will remain open in the city: Walmart Supercenter in Belmont Cragin, at 4626 Diversey Ave.; a Supercenter in Austin, at 4650 W. North Ave; Pullman, a Supercenter, at 10900 S. Doty Ave; and Walmart Neighborhood Market Gresham, at 7535 S. Ashland Ave.
A few hours after the announcement was made, Elijah Straight stood outside the store, watching the stream of people in and out and had a hard time believing profitability was the issue.
"It’s like this almost every day," said Straight, 38.
The supercenter closing would be crippling for the area, he said. "It brings jobs, it brings economic growth and in this part of the city, there’s really no super markets around here."
Marcus Jackson, who came to the health center for an appointment on Tuesday, figured there was more to it than what the company said.
"You came in and filled a void– now you’re taking it away," said Jackson, 38. "It was like a teaser."
According to the company, city and community leaders have been receptive to meetings regarding challenges over the years.
"As we looked for solutions, it became even more clear that for these stores, there was nothing leaders could do to help get us to the point where they would be profitable," the release said.
Chatham’s health clinic and pharmacy have been quality, affordable places for the underinsured to get care, said Nedra Fears, executive director of Greater Chatham Initiative.
Fears said the closure is a "really big deal" for residents in and outside of the community.
"It’s one of the most frequented places to visit (in Chatham)," she said. "It’s also a regional destination. It’s not only for people in our neighborhood. I was just there on Sunday, and it was packed."
"I hate that this is happening," said Vaughn, 71. "I’ve been in his neighborhood 58 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes and it’s disheartening to see a company this size could shut down like this."
The resident of Gresham said she had been coming to the pharmacy ever since it opened, preferring it to others because it felt safer and because she had developed a rapport with the pharmacists.
She knew the company promised employees jobs at other Walmart stores and said she would follow the pharmacists from the supercenter wherever they went, but knew she likely wouldn’t feel safe going alone anymore.
She wondered if there was anything the community could do to keep the store from closing, but in the meantime said the immediacy of it the decision left a bad taste in the mouth.
"For older people and Black people, it’s a slap to our face," she said. "We need this store."
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.