Grocery Store Turmoil in Chicago

Bankruptcies don’t help. Even the big chains are closing stores.

The grocery store sector is never static. Some stores close, others open. But in Chicago, 25 stores closed over the past 24 months due to bankruptcies or operational reasons, and only 16 stores have opened, producing “an alarming loss” of 545,000 square feet of grocery store space.

This includes five independent grocery stores that closed, while only two new ones opened, bringing their total down to 43 stores. Their market share, based on square footage, declined to just 7%. This is “not a positive sign for improving the food deserts where these grocers penetrate more regularly,” according to Mid-America Real Estate’s biennial Urban Grocery Study.

And the average store size shrank, as the stores that were closed averaged 38,000 square feet, while the stores that opened or are planned average 25,000 square feet.

The study covers the period from September 2015 to August 1, 2017, in an urban area of 3.2 million residents with 262 operating or proposed grocery stores of more than 10,000 square feet in size.

In addition to the current difficulties, Amazon’s entry looms over the grocery market. Whole Foods, which is being acquired by Amazon, has 13 stores in the area, nine of them “in primarily higher income” locations. It has about 7% of the market on a square-footage basis. And the report finds that “consumers continue to anticipate the opening of Amazon Go stores or perhaps ‘combo’ sites of Amazon/Whole Foods part grocery-part fulfillment center.”

Regional grocery store chain Dominick’s has become a Safeway fatality. In 1998, the chain’s 116 stores were acquired by Safeway Inc. Critics say that Safeway cheapened the product offerings, including replacing Dominick’s private label brands with Safeway brands. And the store-closings started. At the end of 2013, with only 83 Dominick’s stores remaining, Safeway closed all of them. Two month later, as if by coincidence, Safeway was acquired in a leveraged buyout by private equity firm Cerberus.

Many of the Dominick’s stores remained “dark” for years. But over the two-year period of the report, nearly one million square feet of those locations were absorbed by major chain stores, which dampened the impact of the bankruptcies and store closings to create “a stall and step backwards in urban Chicago,” as the report put it.




Jewel Osco moved into the number one spot, with 51 stores. Aldi, after closing three locations, dropped to number two, with 49 stores.

In the plus-column:

Target is doubling the number of its small-format stores (20,000-30,000 square feet) to eight locations. These stores are either already open or under construction. According to the report, they’re offering a “variety of grab-and-go grocery, pharmacy/health/beauty, limited apparel and electronics; and most have in-store cafes, thus nailing the merchandise mix worthy of inclusion as an urban grocery competitor.”

Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market opened two small gourmet grocery stores of under 30,000 square feet.

H Mart, a grocer catering to the Asian community, already has four stores in the suburbs and now plans to open a new 20,000-square-foot sore in the West Loop. The report:

This is the second Asian-based urban grocer since the arrival of Seafood City in the Mayfair neighborhood on the northwest side in 2016. Seafood City is rumored to now be doubling the size of their store by 2019 due to larger than anticipated volumes.

Plans are underway for two grocery co-ops to open small stores: The Dill Pickle with 13,000 square feet and Chicago Market with 10,000 square feet. They’re barely large enough to make it into the study (cutoff at 10,000 square feet).

In the minus-column:

The otherwise rapidly expanding German discounter Aldi closed three stores in Chicago, bringing its count down to 49 locations. But even as Safeway-Albertson’s gives its PE firm owners gray hairs, Aldi has announced an additional $3.4 billion investment, expecting to operate 2,500 stores across the US by 2022. Now there’s the fervent hope that some of them might happen in Chicago.

Three Ultra Foods and a Strack & Val Til were shuttered, totaling 327,000 square feet, following the May bankruptcy of Central Grocers. The Midwest cooperative of grocery wholesalers operates three regional chains: Strack & Van Til, Ultra Foods, and Town & Country Markets. In the bankruptcy filing, the company said that it would try to sell the more viable stores and close the rest.

“The closing of Ultra Foods in Calumet Park instantly created a food desert, by definition,” the report found. The space may eventually be absorbed, most likely by operations that are “only partial grocery, combined with other active non-grocer categories, almost guaranteeing a permanent loss of supply here.”

Meijer has closed two smaller stores, totaling 181,000 square feet.

Wal-Mart, which closed all of its Express stores in the US, also closed its two in Chicago, along with two Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets (primarily grocery), totaling 58,700 square feet. The report mused: “Wal-Mart’s inactivity in urban Chicago remains puzzling.”

All the big gorillas have been trying it, but most consumers just don’t want to. Read…  Amazon’s Online Grocery Boom? Not So Fast…




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  86 comments for “Grocery Store Turmoil in Chicago

  1. mvojy
    Aug 16, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Pretty soon the poor people in inner cities won’t have anywhere to shop for food or other goods while the well off get everything delivered by Amazon to their doorman

    • Aug 16, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      There will always be someone who’ll set up shop in the inner city but at price higher than the well off pay.. I read recently that many rural poor only have the local gas station to buy food and unless they have the means to drive to the nearest city they are stuck buying at the local Arco or 7-11..

      • Kent
        Aug 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        “There will always be someone who’ll set up shop in the inner city but at price higher than the well off pay..”

        Hence the rise of dollar stores. Where you can pay 20% less for 50% of the product size.

        • Duke De Guise
          Aug 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

          Yes, but at least they haven’t cut back on the hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, salt, dyes, stabilizers, emulsifiers and preservatives.

          That would be un-American.

      • TJ Martin
        Aug 17, 2017 at 8:45 am

        That simply is not true . The fact is thru out the land from the Urban Cityscape to the Rural and all places in between over the last thirty years there are ‘ Food Deserts ‘ across the land to the point of depriving many of a source of fresh food .

        Fact is .. of all the Western ‘ civilized ‘ nations the US has the highest number of Food Deserts * in the world … a factor that has lead to the current health crisis including the rise of diabetes , obesity etc

        * A food desert is defined as a residential area devoid of grocery stores and supermarkets

    • hidflect
      Aug 17, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Read about that phenomena 15 years ago with ATM’s. Banks just pulled branches and machines out of poor suburbs being that they were the lowest profitable areas. Without regulations, capitalism runs its natural course and you end up with Brazil.

    • R Davis
      Aug 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Do you believe that the former customers of the stores that are now shopping with Amazon & that is why these stores are bankrupt ?
      Is it possible that the weeping story “Amazon has stolen our customers ” is a lie to cover up the fact that there is gross mismanagement of the whole Food Growing & Food Selling industries have screwed up the system ?
      Coles Coburg Victoria Aust. is where I have shopped – for the most part – for the last 30 odd years . The candy shelves have halved – 2/3rd’s the biscuit shelves have vanish – canned fruit – soups & much more – we have stopped buying all manner of goods.
      Why ?
      We have no money to buy.
      With all their meddling & favoritism of “growth & centralization” the Australian government has destroyed the jobs market –
      No money will do it every time.
      Also the population of the planet never was as large as they were telling us – their imagination was running wild & business spiel screams “grow or die” – but there are no new customers & the population of planet earth is actually shrinking.
      Today the most pressing problem the whole planet has is below replacement fertility – in a few thousand years man will no longer exist on earth at this rate.

      • R Davis
        Aug 17, 2017 at 4:01 pm

        Sorry – I’ve just recently had a device installed in my chest – a pace maker – I am now getting used to being an Android.
        Is it that the former customers have left the stores & now shop with Amazon ?

        • R Davis
          Aug 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

          Just while I’m here
          article – Facebook Shut Down AI After It Invented It’s Own Language – I read it on There Are No Sun Glasses – The Epoch Times ran it.
          Aren’t we now well & truly screwed – shouldn’t this kind of tech discovery be in the hands of a more responsible & accountable body ?

    • alex in san jose
      Aug 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      mvojoy – I’m enjoying my Prime membership very much, but where I am it was announced on the radio that Amazon, being such good guys, are going to offer a special program for low-income shoppers who want Prime, only $12 or so a month.

      Regular Prime is $100 a year.

      About $44 extra a year because we care…

    • Steve Yerby
      Aug 18, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Amazon is creating a world of haves and have nots. “Prime” people and losers. I shopped primarily at Amazon for 15 years, but Jeff Bezos is now a megalomaniac. It’s amazing how shoppers don’t check prices there either.

  2. bill
    Aug 16, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Wasn’t Dominick’s killed by some hedge fund? Aldi is expanding the size of their stores around me.

  3. Bookdoc
    Aug 16, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Some areas have such high risk of shoplifting and robbery that it just doesn’t justify opening a business or keeping one open!

    • OutLookingIn
      Aug 16, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      BINGO!

      “Wal-Mart’s inactivity in urban Chicago remains puzzling”.

      Nothing “puzzling” about it. Wal-Mart does not want to end up owning a number of looted, burnt out shells in Chicago. The inner city denizen’s have no one to blame for the migration out of their grocery stores, but themselves. An ongoing and worsening trend, in almost every major city center as urban blight and poverty, rot the cities from the core out.

      • Suzie Alcatrez
        Aug 16, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        I think you are channeling your inner Archie Bunker.

        Cities have changed in the past 50 years. Downtowns are now where the rich and young live. Go to down town Denver, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, etc. You’ll be very surprised.

        • Ricardo
          Aug 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm

          jaa, you’ll be very surprised at how badly Detroitified all of these places got so fast in the last two years!

        • OutLookingIn
          Aug 16, 2017 at 9:08 pm

          I think you are channeling your inner blind person.

          There are none so blind that will not see.
          Try REALLY going “downtown”. You will not only be very surprised, but shocked at what you witness. That’s if you come back whole without being mugged, or something much worse.

          Just like a two year old birthday cake may look good from the outside, inside it’s rotten and dangerous to your health.

          Try volunteering at your local inner city church, social, or NGO out reach program. The children you meet will open your eyes.
          CAUTION: You will never be the same again. Venture at will.

        • alex in san jose
          Aug 17, 2017 at 6:13 pm

          Outlookingin – I live in a pretty major city. And there are all these “City Beautiful” plans floating around, and some things will get fixed up but an equal number of other things will fall into squalor. A major movie theater downtown is now an empty shell. Hoboes have permanently set up camp in the niches in the front. One little store will open, and 1-2 will close. A large building was inhabited by a company called Data Pipe but that’s now an empty shell. Restaurants keep dying off in San Pedro Square so you’ve got the Old Spaghetti Factory which will probably never die, next to an empty space.

          The funniest one I’ve seen is, AFK, a “Gamer Lounge”, imagine a restaurant/bar for computer gamers, can’t pay its electric bill and has a notice from the electric company taped to their door.

          We do have the rich and the young living downtown, along with a growing number of homeless, and as desirable as downtown is supposed to be, we have so much empty space.

          There are rumors that Google will buy a lot of empty space … we have empty buildings and lots galore, so will it become a “Company Town”?

      • MarkinSF
        Aug 17, 2017 at 12:27 am

        So name one city

    • KFritz
      Aug 17, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Full disclosure: the only Republicans I’ve ever voted for were George Deukmejian (once), the Republican candidates in a safe SF East Bay district (just to be a nudge), and–45 years ago– write-in candidates in my NJ hometown as a prank.

      Safeway opened one of its Pak-n-Save stores in Emeryville, (East Bay) adjacent to a West Oakland ‘food desert,’ in aproximately 1993. It came about through a combination of a few community activists working with Safeway and the well-intentioned government of Emeryville. I talked often with store managers. The theft losses began opening day, and hovered @ $100,000 per month. Eventually the losses were reduced significantly by intelligent packaging (as few attractive, small, concealable items as possible), store configuration, in-house security, and a beleaguered Emeryville Police department–the entire shopping center, with several other stores, kept them frantically busy during its early years with shoplifting arrests. FYI, the store is still open.

      For various reasons, I’m an economic refugee living in Hanford, CA, 40 miles south of Fresno. One of the first differences I noticed after moving is that almost no retail businesses here employ visible security guards. I found this mind-boggling–Hanford is anything but a wealthy town. Yet, no security guards. Perhaps, repeat perhaps, one reason for the large number of stores operating here, including Sears, Kohls, and JC Penney, is low theft and security costs.

      My sample of one has convinced me that the cost of theft is one very likely reason that major businesses stay out of some of our big cities.

      • Anonymous.1
        Aug 17, 2017 at 7:53 pm

        The security guards have been replaced with security cameras.

        There is an amusement park that has over 1,000 security cameras.

        This is Tech replacing jobs.

        • KFritz
          Aug 17, 2017 at 8:46 pm

          Not the case in most of the grocery stores here. I moved here 4 years ago, and noticed a difference immediately. And Hanford is much ‘lower tech’ than the Bay Area. Walmart and Home Depot do have receipt checkers at the exits…sometimes.

          Do you ever shop in urban settings with high crime rates? I did for a great deal of my life.

  4. cdr
    Aug 16, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Grocery store turmoil around Chicago … no, not really.

    While Chicago will always have supermarket ghettos, I don’t live near one and life is good. Centrella’s bankruptcy has affected a favored local market but they are still getting by and will thrive again once a replacement is found.

    Food is plentiful and cheap. I recently got a grill and eat lots of meat and it’s cheap. (Note to wags … my triglycerides were off the charts until I discovered high carbs were literally killing me. Moved back to fats and lost weight and my numbers are good. Glycemic load is key.)

    Really, if the Fed raises rates and reduces its balance sheet, life will return to normal. That’s all it will take. Parsing out grocery stores or retail will not be needed as it will look like normal changes with the times afterward.

    • J
      Aug 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Funny I doubled my carb and sugar intake and eliminated meat and dairy. Ofc I eat super healthy sugars (fruits) and super healthy carbs (grains, veggies, legumes). I’ve lost fat and gained lean muscle (and I was already very fit) We are meant do eat carbs evolutionarily, not meat. Meat and dairy causes 14 of the 15 chronic illnesses in humans. It’s literally the number one killer of humans and it’s ruining our planet. The Netflix film What The Health helped open my eyes. I suggest watching it.

      • cdr
        Aug 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        I actually measure my ‘numbers’ periodically using home tests and they have been confirmed by my Dr using better tests. High amounts of cheap carbs were killing me. My specs are normal now and are measurable. I’m also lean and in good shape. Resting heart beat in the 50s. I was also lean and in good shape with bad numbers, just a little heavier.

        Seriously, look into glycemic load. Cheap (highly refined) carbs hit it bad. Good carbs are better. Lots of foods you would think are ‘bad’ are not. Junk science accepted by most accept ‘eating cholesterol gives you high cholesterol.’ You spouted junk science. Sorry. People get sick with high triglycerides (fat in the blood) with high junk carb diets.

      • cdr
        Aug 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

        Also, sugar is sugar, even if it’s ‘all natural’ from juice or honey. Another myth. Fruit juice is almost toxic sugar water to me. Some fruit is better than others.

        • Carlata
          Aug 16, 2017 at 8:46 pm

          “Sugar is sugar” – bull. Fruit is not “sugar”. There is a difference. Do you know how sugar is made? That is not fruit. Fruits are the best foods for your body. And any person who knows anything doesn’t equate fruit ~eating~ to drinking fruit juices.
          I won’t include the [real] cancer info on meat/dairy as to not alarm you.

      • ralph
        Aug 16, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        Rat meat is the most healthy! Chinese stores and Mcdonlads mix it with their beef to give the customers the health benefits! Better margins too!

        • tony
          Aug 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

          chinese restaurants in new jersey got caught with dead deer picked it up off garden state parkway. Of course consumer had to suffer when price went up had to use real beef.

        • R2D2
          Aug 16, 2017 at 5:24 pm

          The uglier and fatter the rat, the tastier that it is. Yum Yum, give me some 😈.

        • cdr
          Aug 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm

          I guess snowflakes eat differently from normal people like me. I personally would not go that way. Wash your hands.

        • number1gi
          Aug 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm

          “Charlie didn’t get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat. “

        • cdr
          Aug 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

          On my web site (which I don’t plug here), I would have deleted these comments. None are alt-right or alt-left.

        • Duke De Guise
          Aug 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

          Rat meat in the dumplings? And here I always thought it was cat meat.

          Thanks for killing my MSG buzz, dude!

          Well at least here in NYC we can be grateful the General Tso’s is still made with local pigeon…

        • alex in san jose
          Aug 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm

          Those mad, mad, Mcdonlads, what will they do next?

      • hidflect
        Aug 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

        Fruit has the worst sugar, fructose. It’s not even processed by the stomach but by the liver, like alcohol causing fatty liver disease. We aren’t meant to eat fruit often and certainly not modern fruit which is like candy compared to how fruit used to be. Off topic… off topic.. must cease rant..

      • Amps
        Aug 17, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        Everytime I start eating too many carbs, as delicious as they are, I start getting sick and fatigued. Can’t handle em for some reason. Btw, when you control meat consumption for how it was cooked (any charring or open flame cooking causes potent carcinogens) the associated risk of cancer disappears…

  5. JA
    Aug 16, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Grocery store turmoil is nothing new in my area of southern California. A lot of stores have closed for good reason. We had too many stores. When I moved here in the 90’s there were 8 large supermarkets within 2 miles of my home. Back in the 70’s this was new neighborhood with lots of growing families. Now the kids have grown up, leaving empty nests and the retired. In addition, Target, Walmart and others sell groceries now. Costco even sells organic so they are getting more of my business. Supermarkets have a lot more competition.

  6. Petunia
    Aug 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Where these supermarkets are closing and where the new ones are opening matters. The places that close in the poor areas are likely to never come back. They may stay away until the gentrification of these areas begins, maybe a generation away. I am horrified by the crime stats coming out of Chicago. It is truly a war zone.

    We had planned to spend a couple of days of our holiday in New Orleans this summer. As I read the local news in preparation for our trip, the crime stories really alarmed me. We stayed home. On a per capita basis their murder rate is higher than Chicago’s. Lately, they are doing stories about all the restaurants that are closing.

    • Sporkfed
      Aug 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      New Orleans is doing the best they can to commit suicide. I’m not certain
      it is salvageable. They are hardly alone however, Jackson MS, Mobile, AL
      and Birmingham, AL to name a few are all facing uphill battles to just maintain basic infrastructure.

      • Aug 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        None of these places willbe inhabitable by 2100 at the outside, anyway.

        • Frederick
          Aug 17, 2017 at 4:48 am

          Many of them are uninhabitable now in my opinion I’ll take my little Turkish village on the edge of the Med with all the quiet organic oregano and honey

        • hidflect
          Aug 17, 2017 at 7:43 am

          They used to say the same thing about the Bronx in the 70’s.

    • 728huey
      Aug 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      I lived in the Chicago area for about 20 years, and while the crime is quite bad, it’s actually lower than it was during the 1980s and early 1990s (but still way too high). It’s also mostly segregated to certain parts of town, meaning if you live in a well-off part of the city, you’re not likely to experience much of this violence at all. Those people living along the lakefront on the near north side of town from downtown up through the Lakeview / Wrigleyville neighborhood, the northwest side of town, Hyde Park on the near South Side, and the southwest side around Midway Airport are generally in safe neighborhoods. Other neighborhoods have safe areas with pockets of violent people, but the dangerous areas are on the south and west side neighborhoods of Englewood, Roseland, Lawndale, West Lawndale, and West Pullman. Chicago used to have public high rises that were dominated by street gangs, but they were all razed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and a lot of those residents were scattered across the poorer sections of Chicago, the south suburbs, and even my hometown of Rockford, Illinois.

      As for the food deserts, it’s common yet sad to see no grocery stores within five miles of most neighborhoods yet there are liquor stores, mom-and-pop convenience stores that are loaded mostly with junk food, and fast food joints all down the street. Consider that basic nutrition is not taught in many of these schools, mostly because they’re underfunded and/or understaffed,and you have a witches brew of obesity and ill health.

      • Anonymous.1
        Aug 17, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        ” liquor stores, mom-and-pop convenience stores that are loaded mostly with junk food, and fast food joints all down the street.”

        The question is who owns these establishments. And do they have these same type of establishments in their part of town where they live?

      • Mark
        Aug 19, 2017 at 12:08 am

        Huey, I agree with your comments about the violence being contained to certain areas. You’re spot on. Another violent neighborhood is Austin the far west side. Chicago is very safe in the areas that people associate as being Chicago, the loop, lakefront, north side, etc, accept for a random shooting every now and then.

        I was born in rockford. Small world to run into someone else from there on wolfstreet.

    • Frederick
      Aug 16, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Why do you assume “gentrification” will be the final result everywhere I’m NOT so rue we don’t go in the other direction if the dollar loses a lot of value fast As a matter of fact that’s my prediction Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Kunstler but somehow I doubt it

    • nick kelly
      Aug 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      What do you think of the ‘no name’ brand? I don’t even know if it is one outfit because anyone can call themselves ‘no name’
      Anyway, there is quite a bit of their stuff here in BC, alongside brands. The one outfit doing most of it here has a familiar yellow label.

      So far their stuff seems fine. And I’ve had a experience where I had bought two types of whole cranberry sauce, the brand for guests and the no name just for later. To my surprise, no name seemed higher quality.

      Right off the top, the brand ( the big guys) had almost an inch of liquid on top before there was anything. No name was a firmer product, with lots of berries. The brand was closer to being a jelly, even though it was
      ‘whole berry’

      I think the whole no name phenom is an interesting reaction to rising food prices and an indication that there are limits to what advertising can do.

      • Anonymous.1
        Aug 17, 2017 at 8:20 pm

        The interesting thing is that a large of the no name brand will not include the country of origin on the food label.

  7. Aug 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    My perception is that the Chicago area became over-stored due to the arrival of Marianos. I think any store census has to consider how many stores/sq. ft. were in place before Marianos came to town. Thus, this recent shrinkage may be in large part due to the aggressive expansion of a rival chain in the pre-period. While this is anecdotal, the grocery stores in my area that are closing are all in proximity to a Marianos

  8. matt
    Aug 16, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Wolf. Thank you for that awesome follow up on that article I sent you this morning! I knew Chicago has been decimated by supermarket closings along with the entire country. Your report here proves this. I was aware of the chains that have closed as I have been following this very closely. Again Wolf, Thank you

  9. Brew_it
    Aug 16, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I like HMart. They sell british goodies also

  10. George McDuffee
    Aug 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I have written a lengthy screed (starting in 2013) on improving the SNAP/food stamp program which is available in pdf format at
    http://mcduffee-associates.us/DROPBOX/SNAPcomplete06.pdf
    pages 12 through 22 address the specific problem of food deserts, and has some possible remedial/ameliorate suggested actions, which are intended to not only provide adequate caloric intake with reduced costs, but a balanced diet.

    In many cases the people eating unhealthy do so because: (1) they don’t know any better; (2) they lack the knowledge and equipment to cook; (3) they are bombarded continuously with fast/junk food propaganda/indoctrination; and (4) fast/junk food is the only food available.

    One possible solution, outlined in the screed will be expensive, but not as expensive as not implementing it, because of the metabolic diseases caused by the typical American diet such as diabetics (amputations and blindness), obesity, high blood pressure, kidney disease and stroke which result in high costs to society for disability compensation, medical treatment, and lost earnings.

    Enjoy!

    • greg
      Aug 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      So you are saying Junk Food Corporations are willfully killing and destroying their health for $$$$!
      Who would’ve guessed! Sheet empires always collapse! Write about that wolfie!

    • cdr
      Aug 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      “In many cases the people eating unhealthy do so because: (1) they don’t know any better; (2) they lack the knowledge and equipment to cook; (3) they are bombarded continuously with fast/junk food propaganda/indoctrination; and (4) fast/junk food is the only food available.”

      Agree 1000%. It took me a lifetime to learn and accept some simple basic rules about food. Myths abound and most are considered accepted science. My insides were in bad shape but I looked great and looked healthy. All from bad food … mostly highly refined carbs and an addiction to sugar, especially grapes by the pound. to sound like a broken record ‘glycemic load’ is a great starting point to learn to eat more healthy.

      • DanR
        Aug 16, 2017 at 9:32 pm

        I think you are onto something. I’m enjoying more broccoli, meat, pecans and unsweetened coconut.

        • alex in san jose
          Aug 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm

          “Keto” diet all the way, here. 2 months in and almost 20 lbs down, down 2 inches in waist size and in another couple of months will be down 2 more inches there.

          I feel better, and I’m not going into details but my insides are working a lot better too. Meat, fish, veggies, nuts, unsweetened coconut (get the unsweetened coconut “chips” they’re somewhat expensive but you won’t feel like eating a lot at any one time and a lb of ’em will last you a long time) eggs, cheese, pretty much a “whole food” diet except for I guess cheese which is one of the original “processed” foods and I eat green veggies with every meal plus keep ’em around for snacking – radishes (which pair well with raw pecans) cucumbers things like that.

          It’s all about that glycemic index.

    • Petunia
      Aug 16, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      I haven’t read your paper, but how much time did you spend living with and around poor people before you wrote it? Just wondering.

      • bayouhunter
        Aug 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        There is no poor people in America. America’s poor’s biggest problem is obesity! Fact!
        If you really want to know POOR people go countries like India, Bhangladesh, Congo or Yemen to name a few of the dozens of impoverished nations.

        • mean chicken
          Aug 16, 2017 at 11:28 pm

          Just like the Peruvian fisherman who moved to NYC to make millions $$$!!

          Same problems exist where upper class take advantage by trading various global arbitrages such as labor rates, for example.

        • George McDuffee
          Aug 17, 2017 at 2:44 am

          “When the rich think about the poor, they have poor ideas.”
          Evita Peron http://www.azquotes.com/author/11537-Evita_Peron

        • Frederick
          Aug 17, 2017 at 4:52 am

          I disagree I was a lot more wealthy on paper anyway when I lived in NY but living simpler over here with my Mediterranean diet and slower way of life made me realize just how “poor” many urban Americans truly are I guess it’s all opinion I think the millions of Americans drowning in debt and having little if any job security are about as poor as you can get

    • Ricardo
      Aug 17, 2017 at 9:47 am

      In many cases people eating unhealthy do so because:
      (1) they are too stupid to think about it and so they “don’t know better” – actually they eat garbage simply because that is what they like, they like the taste and the buzz, ;
      (2) they are too stupid to cook and to stupid to maintain simple utensils with which to cook – I can’t argue with you on this point – but then you disregard all reality with unworkable solutions instead of heeding the ancient wisdom that is found in a Confucious poem “you can’t fix stupid”;
      (3) they are too stupid to sort propaganda from reality – you got that right; and
      (4) they are too stupid and lazy to go get healthy food so de cry that they have no other choice – I think you’re learning;

      All I can add is:
      (5) know it all funny enablers are so smart that they are able to become to deluded to accept reality and through sheer political force, they place the blame and costs on the rest of us. And through the force of the State, they take from us, they take and take and take, and there’s nothing left.

    • Kf6vci
      Aug 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

      … and COST. Here in Germany, $ 1 buys 800 grams of biskuits. Salads, fruits and veggies are comparatively expensive.

      TBH, I end up loading the shopping cart with junk food, too which is bad for me, “Zero” sodas containing Aspartame. Ice cream on a hot day. Chocolate which maks me fat.

      A huge % of grown food gets discarded because the bananas are too small, have black spots, the apples are misshapen or whatever. We need to address this and find solutions without giving the poor MONEY.

      The WaPo ran an aricle on 4 generations of SSI recipients. It was a painful read. Stupid people, living badly and paying hundreds of Dollars for “furniture”!! Mobile phone & TV? Hundreds more. Electricity $ 600!! Giving such people money will n o t help them. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/2017/06/02/generations-disabled/?utm_term=.19646aebde20

      Wolf’s spot on. The rich can drive in their SUVs to the cheap outlets and buy cheap water etc. Try getting good deals in the inner cities. In some places, one would need a Brinks truck! I was in Birmingham UK recently and didn’t like it one bit.

      • Anonymous.1
        Aug 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

        Red Flag. The article discusses people with mental disorders. I don’t think you meant to call them “stupid”.

  11. tony
    Aug 16, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    About 45 minutes south of chicago is grocery chain called woodmans best grocery store i have shopped in anywhere.Employees are even given stock in the company.They are like costco but sell everything at regular sizes discount everything, have a complete liquor store problem is they have only one store in illinois they are big in wisconsin. I would say jewels is second great meat discounts.

    • cdr
      Aug 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Agree about woodmans. There’s a store in Rockford and in Algonquin. Amazing prices and selection. I stop there sometimes.

      • Rorkesdrift
        Aug 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

        Shopp at the Woodman’s in Kenosha whenever possible. Opening in Buffalo Grove spring of 2018

  12. IdahoPotato
    Aug 16, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Meanwhile, Natural Grocers, a family owned business that treats its employees and customers well, is expanding rapidly around the country.

    All their produce is organic, all their dairy, meat and eggs follow strict standards, and cost way less than Whole Paycheck. There’s free coffee and a meeting area with a microwave. More power to stores like these.

    • Kf6vci
      Aug 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Recently in the Netherlands, I was at a store which had free coffe and wifi. But prices were almost double those of ALDI in Germany. (That common EU market isn’t functioning that well, is it? Take water. 1.5 liters are 0.19 € at ALDI and aLL the German chains – for some reason. There, prices started at 0.79 € for smaller bottles).

  13. Wilbur58
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I grew up in the Chi when it was all A&P, Dominick’s, and Jewel.

    My favorite grocer for produce is Sprouts by far. I guess they haven’t made it to many parts of the US yet. And as I’ve written on other comment threads here, I go to a Hispanic butcher for fish and meats, and Trader Joe’s for other discount items- bananas, romaine, peeled garlic, certain frozen items, etc.

    (CDR, eat loads of romaine. Along with the russet potato, I consider it one of the greatest, taken-for-granted foods. Romaine has surprisingly decent nutrient density and it’s delicious. For some reason, people think that Kale must be uber-nutritious because it tastes bad. I can’t wait for that fad to go away. If anything, it’s just decent roughage. (And as for the russet, it’s just so much better than blue/red/yellow potatoes and I think we should honor this noble tuber. It ought to have a national day of recognition. America would have a panic attack without it.))

    • cdr
      Aug 17, 2017 at 8:06 am

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/

      Thanks. I like this site. There are others, too. This one gives you specific GL numbers for specific foods and you can vary the portion size. It got me started. Google provides basic info about glycemic index vs glycemic load.

  14. mean chicken
    Aug 16, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Uncle Sidney – Prison Philosopher says: “Stay out of the hood and singing in the shower is all fun and games until you get shampoo in your mouth. Then it becomes a soap opera!”

  15. Alister
    Aug 17, 2017 at 2:09 am

    Is this really a bad thing..less crap being sold to make people fat and stupid. Maybe now people will learn to shop at one of the Chicago farmers markets..and buy some fresh produce..and actually cook something. Europe seems to survive and its people live long lives shopping at local farmers markets and small grocery stores…and most are not hog bodies that can barely get off a chair. So for me this is a positive change for Chicago..it may get people walking and cooking and healthy. Americans would be a healthy and normal weight if all large grocery stores went the way of the dinosaur.

    • fajensen
      Aug 17, 2017 at 3:53 am

      “””
      Americans would be a healthy and normal weight if all large grocery stores went the way of the dinosaur.
      “””
      I don’t think so, at least the large grocery store I visited a some years ago in Knoxville had an obscene array of very nice fruits, vegetables, beans and other stuff. Fresh and arranged in an attractive manner. In my (limited) observation it was not for the lack of healthier choices, that most of the customers instead went to the ready-made-stuff areas.

      I think it is combination / entanglement of:

      Poor Parenting – children are not taught how to cook and about assuming generally healthy habits (not fads). At work, I have several American colleagues, university graduates and all, who are stunned to hear that I will cook everything from raw ingredients, on a daily basis (and we make about 20 different meals in a month). Their parents failed at making their children independent, IMO!

      Massive lobbying, legislative capture and propaganda efforts from “Big Food” effectively pushing the industrial stuff down the throats of school children, workers who eats at factory cafeteria and (other) prisoners (the documentary “Food.Inc” is quite scary),

      Stress and meanness – if life sucks, why not gorge oneself on “junky food and shit” to get it over with faster?, if one is unloved, it doesn’t change the situation much if one is a bloated mess also?

      Low average income – the industrial stuff may be bad, but, it is very cheap calories,

      A Complex problem. It will take real political effort and quite a long time to generally push the population in a healthier direction.

      Since that effort will not be coming any day soon, it is currently all up to “personal strength of will” to change oneself and ones family into a healthier position.

      When one has too many other problems in life, this is not so likely to happen. Which was kinda the thinking behind the welfare states in Scandinavia – improving the life of the lower levels in society to improve the health (and wealth) of the entire society. It worked too, until Mass Immigration was devised to break it!

      • Frederick
        Aug 17, 2017 at 4:54 am

        Or you could end it al even faster by becoming a junkie as so many sadly are indeed doing Very sad situation indeed

      • cdr
        Aug 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

        “Americans would be a healthy and normal weight if all large grocery stores went the way of the dinosaur.”

        There’s a lot of bad science taken as fact. Even Drs believe a lot of it and treat you like a kook if you don’t subscribe. When I finally took my bad numbers seriously, the Dr gave me a handout diet to follow. It had contradictory info on different pages. I doubt he ever read it – otherwise he’s a good Dr. I blame his nurse, actually. (Example -Eat peanut butter … pages later Don’t ear peanut butter. Actually, peanut butter has a high quality fat and it a great food, which is good because I love the stuff. The jelly is an occasional treat. ) I reasoned that diabetics (I’m not one but the glucose levels were rising before) live with the need for a good diet so glycemic data would be a good reference point, not fad diets.

  16. Gershon
    Aug 17, 2017 at 7:33 am

    No corporation is going to want to “invest” in grocery stores that are going to turn into looted burned-out shells as Chicago continues its downward spiral into dystopia. Or deal with the high levels of shoplifting and violence by “shoppers” prior to reaching that point.

  17. TJ Martin
    Aug 17, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Wolf ;

    You left out one of the winners in the Chicago area . Heinens . Hmm .. funny that they prosper as others fall by the wayside . Think maybe everyone else could learn something from that small Cleveland based family owned chain ? Nahhh … Learn ? Why learn when repeating the same old mistakes over and over again is so much easier .

    FYI ; A couple other family owned supermarket chains worth paying attention to ?

    KCMO’s Cosentino’s and Aspen’s Clarks Market

  18. Enquiring Mind
    Aug 17, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Dollar stores sometimes have produce sections. If you shop carefully, you can find many bargains, even if you have to eat things faster. Check freshness, pull dates and similar things for any food items. You may be surprised at the range of available food, often brands identical to what you see in conventional stores.

  19. Kf6vci
    Aug 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Regarding the obesity epidemic: eliminating sugary sodas would make a helluva difference. I drink about 4-5 liters a day. At 14% sugar, do the math. That a l o n e will push people on “normal diets” over the edge.

    Healthy foods are expensive. And supermarkets react to what sells, don’t they? When their good avocados won’t sell, they won’t reorder them. Perishable goods will be a headache, I’m sure.

    Most poor don’t even think about salads, fruit & veggies but live on packaged meals and sweet drinks like half gallon bottles of fake “orange juice” or something. (My own observation, YMMV).

    Wish there would be outlets for yesterday’s bread & discarded foods. SELL those for a fraction of the normal price…

    • RagnarD
      Aug 19, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Healthy foods are not expensive at Aldi.
      And they can be relatively cheap anywhere.

      Rice, chicken thighs, raw carrots,
      Peanut butter, bread, apples and bananas, oatmeal, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pasta and sauce, eggs, potatoes.

      What is cheaper than this?

      Have you priced a bag of potato chips lately?

      And I def agree, food deserts exist because of crime and because the customers are generally not interested in the healthy option.

      As if the reason for the poor health of inner city blacks was lack of access to affordable healthcare. As opposed to terrible lifestyle choices.

  20. jw
    Aug 17, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    I grew up in chicago.
    Last time I was there I followed what appeared to be a psychotic driver
    at a distance of about a block: The person went to a Walmart in Rolling Meadows – they bought about fourty dollars on an ebt card…
    potatoe chips, junk foods and candy, precooked junk food and donuts.
    I know that living on candy bars, chips and dips is not healthy.
    the person was about 25 to 30 looking like fifty to sixty.
    I dont know anyone less than 40 who does not live out of mcdonalds, burgerking, arbys, kfc, jackinthe box, chickofil, dunkin donuts, subway, taco bell, …

  21. Aug 18, 2017 at 8:09 am

    As mentioned above, Woodman’s is an excellent combination of selection and price. I go to the one in Rockford and it has great selection of coffees, ethnic foods, and an unbelievable liquor store. A rare store, they do only take cash/debit/checks, no CC’s.

    • Mark
      Aug 19, 2017 at 12:21 am

      Curt,

      I used to work at that woodman’s as a college student. I now prefer Valli produce on Alpine combined with stops at Aldi on 173.

  22. Linda Dorman
    Aug 21, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Any article on grocery stores in Chicago should include Kroger’s acquisition of Mariano’s (Roundy’s) as well as further consolidation caused by the closing of Food4Less stores. Is the Chicago market overstored? Are there better food alternatives such as restaurants and food halls? What’s the impact of food delivery companies such as GrubHub, UberEats and Caviar?

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