Whole Foods closes stores in Englewood, DePaul University Welcome Center – Chicago Tribune

Whole Foods will close two of its 12 stores in the Chicago area, including an Englewood place that opened with great fanfare six years ago in a neighborhood with few grocery options, a spokesman for the specialty store confirmed Friday.

The Englewood location, at 832 W 63rd St., will close in the coming months. A separate Whole Foods location in the DePaul University Welcome Center at 959 W. Fullerton Ave. expected to close by May 6. Whole Foods will not reveal how many employees work in the two stores.

Four other Whole Foods stores in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama; Tarzana, California; and Brookline, Massachusetts, will also close, the spokesman said. Whole Foods has more than 530 locations across the country.

“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” a Whole Food spokesman said in a prepared statement. “We support affected team members through this transition and expect all interested, qualified team members to find positions at our other locations.”

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked with Whole Foods to open the store in 2016, spending more than $ 10 million in tax dollars to make it happen. The store anchored the Englewood Square development, and at the time it opened, it was one of only a handful of Whole Foods sites across the country located in a poor neighborhood. For years afterwards, Emanuel praised the store as a “game changer” with transformative ripple effects for the neighborhood.

At the grand opening, the store attracted large festive crowds. Many shoppers applauded the store’s presence in a community with few options for fresh, healthy food. Whole Foods said they hoped local affiliation, plus significantly lower prices for selected items, would get shoppers back after the hop quieted.

For Chicago, bringing an exclusive merchant to one of the city’s most economically challenging neighborhoods marked a moment of potential change. But the closure of the store is a painful example of how difficult it can be to transform a neighborhood, even with large investments.

More to come.

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