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Anxiety Rises in Chicago as Walmart Makes a Quick and Drastic Move

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Residents in Chicago have expressed a sense of anxiety in the days since Walmart announced it would close half of its stores in Chicago last week.

Citing an inability to turn a profit for almost two decades, the retail giant announced four stores would close in the country’s third-largest city in a news release.

“The decision to close a store is never easy,” the company said in a lengthy statement. “The impact is greater than just closing a building. It affects people — people who work in, shop in and live in communities near our stores — and we never take that lightly.

Walmart expressed regret over its decision but explained that the Chicago market has cost it millions of dollars.

“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,” Walmart said.

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The company added, “We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the city, including $70 million in the last couple years to upgrade our stores and build two new Walmart Health facilities and a Walmart Academy training center.”

“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 company concluded, “With that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to close these underperforming stores in Chicago.”

Will Walmart exit Chicago completely?

Walmart announced it would shutter its supercenter in the neighborhood of Chatham, as well as neighborhood markets in the neighborhoods of Kenwood, Lakeview and Little Village.

The Chatham Supercenter has made news headlines for years over theft and other issues.

In 2020, the store was looted and set on fire during the Black Lives Matter riots following the death of George Flood in Minneapolis.

The Kenwood location was also looted, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The company invested a lot of capital to get the locations repaired and reopened, but crime and theft remained issues.

A day after Walmart announced its closures last week, a woman stole six televisions from the Chatham location, WFLD reported.

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Several people who volunteer to distribute food in Chicago expressed worry to the Fox affiliate about where they would find items such as fresh produce now that four neighborhood Walmarts are gone.

“This is a place where most people get their fresh fruits and vegetables, considering that a lot of the corner stores that’s in our neighborhood currently only provide junk food,” said Ilandrea Nichols with the group My Block My Hood My City.

A volunteer for the group, Lena Bivins, told WFLD, “We’re going to be a voice to say, ‘Hey look if you leave, we’re going to be here. We got this, we’re going to take care of our people.’”

The group was in the Walmart parking lot throughout the weekend donating meat and produce to people who live in Chatham.

My Block My Hood My City founder Jamal Cole said he hopes Walmart, which has vowed to give away the Chatham property, donates the building to his group.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.




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