Sudden loss of Aldi grocery store in Gresham leaves residents, local City Council member stunned
The grocery chain’s Gresham neighborhood location closed for good on June 12, leaving residents with few other options for fresh, healthy food, community members say.
The sudden closing of an Aldi grocery store in the South Side Gresham neighborhood has shocked residents and left them concerned about the lack of options they have to purchase healthy, affordable food in the area.
On June 12, the grocery chain permanently closed the doors on its location at 7627 S. Ashland Ave., following other recent closures on the city’s South and West sides that greatly impact residents, many of whom live in areas defined as “food deserts” for the lack of stores selling fresh food and pantry staples.
Carlos Nelson, CEO of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, said Aldi should have engaged the community before making the decision to close the store.
“When these corporations come into communities like ours, if they want to be true community partners like they claim to be, then have the decency and courtesy to have conversations with the community,” Nelson said. “The community can rally around the issues that the businesses are claiming are persecuting them to the point where they have to leave.”
Nelson said a Walmart store located one block from the now-closed Aldi will not be able to fully serve the community, noting that it lacked the expansive produce section that is found at “Supercenter” locations.
“We are certainly in the midst of a food desert. This is just more emblematic of how corporate America continues to pilfer our communities and when they’re done — when they feel they’re done — they just leave with no engagement,” he said.
The neighborhood’s alderman, David Moore, said he was also frustrated by the lack of communication prior to the store closing.
“Not even the owner of the building was notified before the closure,” according to Moore, who said the store’s lease wasn’t up until the end of the year and that the location had recently been issued a liquor license.
“To me, they could’ve stayed open at least to the end of December if they were going to close, or we could’ve talked with them to see what we need to do to keep them open,” he said.
The closure of the Gresham Aldi comes just months after a West Garfield Park location was shut down due to “poor sales performance,” the Sun-Times previously reported. Last month, residents in Englewood were similarly surprised when Whole Foods decided to closed its doors in the community after six years.
“We do not take the closing of this location lightly,” Aldi said in a statement Tuesday. “Our decision was based on several factors, including repeated burglaries and declining sales. Out of concern for our employees and customers, keeping this store open was no longer a sustainable option.”
Moore said he doubted Aldi’s claims and said his office had previously offered more police presence for both Aldi and Walmart following widespread civil unrest in summer 2020.
“Aldi never contacted my office to say this was a problem,” Moore said.
In the last several years, multiple chain businesses have left the neighborhood, including Bank of America, Save A Lot, CVS and Chase Bank.
An estimated 500,000 Chicago residents live in food deserts, according to The Food Empowerment Project. Another 400,000 Chicagoans have access to fast-food restaurants, but not grocery stores where healthy options may be available, the organization reported.
A banner attached to the now-shuttered Aldi building advised shoppers to visit their closest open location three miles away.
“It’s horrible,” Laporcha Gilmore, a local business owner, said. “A lot of people don’t have transportation to go further away to get food and groceries. It makes it hard for people in the neighborhood.”
Mariah Rush is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.