It's official,the Walmart era has begun. The Walmart Express store opened approximately 6 months ago, in West Chatham,with a lot of fanfare that included a visit from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Yesterday the Walmart Superstore opened with the same fanfare. I wasn't there for the rah rah speeches but went to see what was the hoopla all about. I was greeted by a greeter and I could find an employee everywhere I looked. It was estimated that approximately 150-200 jobs mostly part-time were created with the opening. I walked through the store and its setup like the nearby Target with a pharmacy. They packed a lot of items into the store and the aisle are packed with products. I compared prices on a couple of items and a price war is in effect as the prices on most items were comparable to the nearby Jewel's and Aldi's. I spoke with a couple of customers who stated that they would look at the store as an alternative to shopping at the other grocery stores. Also, they welcomed the store as they feel it would offer some economic benefit. They were not impressed with the pricing. Lastly, what was disappointing was the absence of local vendors products on the shelf. Supervalu(Jewel's and Save A Lot), Kroger(Food 4 less) and Safeway(Dominick's) all have programs that offer local vendors the opportunity to have their products on the shelves of stores. Unfortunately, Alderman Brookins forgot small businesses also hire. The Chatham Business Association totally dropped the ball as the day before they hosted a meeting with City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel about economic development.
It will be interesting to see what happens after all the buyers, product managers, and other Walmart personnel leave and the employees have to run the store. The Walmart Express has failed to live up to the expectations placed on it. Some of the expectations are unfair as it is compared to the store in the Presidential Towers apartment complex. That store replaced an independent market that was already present. Also, questions remain as are the employees from the 21st, 6th, 8th ward? Will Alderman Brookins continue to push CDOT and IDOT to build a taxpayer financed bridge over the Dan Ryan expressway to direct the traffic out of his community? Will the white residents of Evergreen Park and Beverly resume shopping at the 95th Western Walmart store now that African Americans have another store to shop. Will the Beverly residents now back down and let the Meijer's open on 91st Western? Let's see what happens in 6 months.
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Tags: 21st ward, 6th ward, 83rd street, alderman brookins, apartments, beverly, business, cdot, city of chicago, convenience store, dan ryan, dan ryan expressway, dominicks, downtown, economic development, employees, Evergreen park, food 4 less, freddrenna lyle, grocery store, idot, jewels, jobs, kroger, mayor, presidentail towers, Rahm emmanuel, safeway, save a lot, supervalu, Target, Walmart