Grocery store pop-up opens in West Garfield Park, offers residents a taste of things to come

The Garfield Park Community Council and other local organizations will host the pop-up through the end of the week. It’s the first of many things planned for the West Side neighborhood that’s considered a food desert.

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Angela Taylor, wellness coordinator for the Garfield Park Community Council, stands next to an assortment of fruit available at a pop-up grocery store in West Garfield Park.

Angela Taylor, wellness coordinator for the Garfield Park Community Council, with an assortment of fruit available at a pop-up grocery store that opened Monday in West Garfield Park. The effort was organized by the community council and other local organizations. It’s open at 4316 W. Madison St., Monday to Saturday, through the end of April. Taylor’s daughter, Samantha Taylor, is managing the pop-up.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Spring break for CPS students began Monday and fourth-grader Leona Taylor started it by taking off for . . . West Madison Street, where she hoped to spread the word about a new grocery store opening in the West Side neighborhood.

Taylor, a student at Jacob Beidler Elementary School in East Garfield Park, tried to get the attention of passersby about the Garfield Park Community’s Council’s pop-up grocery in West Garfield Park, which opened Monday and — unlike spring break — lasts through the end of the month. It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

The pop-up, managed by Taylor’s mother Samantha Taylor, is the latest effort to make up for the lackluster grocery stores in the neighborhood, where, since the Aldi on Madison Street closed in 2021, residents have been left with little beyond the Save-a-Lot at Madison and Pulaski Road.

It’s small, but contains enough of everything that Taylor hopes in the short term, residents won’t have to go to Oak Park for groceries, and in the long term gives them an idea of what things will be like if the area had a permanent, community-led grocery store.

“There’s a change coming,” Taylor said. “This is about waking people up.”

Samantha Taylor logs expenses for a grocery store pop-up that opened on Monday, April 3, 2023 in West Garfield Park. 

Samantha Taylor logs expenses for a grocery store pop-up that opened on Monday in West Garfield Park. Taylor is managing the store, at 4316 W. Madison St. The effort was organized by the Garfield Park Community Council and other local organizations.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

The pop-up, she said, is just the opposite of the Save-a-Lot, where, she believes, the quality is much lower.

Inside the pop-up, crates of fresh bell peppers and mangoes were laid out on tables. A fridge contained cuts of meat from baby back ribs to turkey tails, as well as milk and eggs. There were also shelf-stable goods and cleaning products.

Employees stock the shelves at a grocery store pop-up that opened April 3, 2023 in West Garfield Park.

Employees stock the shelves at a grocery store pop-up that opened Monday in West Garfield Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Located at 4316 W. Madison St., the store accepts LINK cards. It was funded through a $100,000 private donation, organizers said.

Shoppers will be invited to fill out a survey about what they would like to see in a permanent grocery that the Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative plans to bring to the area. Customers also can learn more about the council’s outdoor market, set to reopen every other weekend in June in East Garfield Park.

Leona Taylor (left) and Jorge Nambo stock shelves at a pop-up grocery store in West Garfield Park on Monday.

Leona Taylor (left) and Jorge Nambo stock shelves at a pop-up grocery store in West Garfield Park.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

Jonathan Brown was one of the people Leona Taylor flagged down on Monday. “When I was a youngster, that used to be our candy store,” he said, looking at the space the grocery occupied. “To see it back up and going now, that’s nice, it’s needed.”

The West Side native checked out the selection and planned to return later to purchase some chicken and shrimp to make a pasta dish for dinner.

“They got shrimp like that for $9.99,” he said, holding up his fingers to indicate how large the shrimp were. On the survey, he said he wished for a bigger store with more options, but for now, he said the pop-up would do.

“I’d give them five stars,” he said.

Michael Loria 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 Side and West Side.

Various types of meats and dairy products at a pop-up grocery store in West Garfield Park. 

Meats and dairy products on display at a pop-up grocery store in West Garfield Park on Monday. The pop-up was organized by the community council and other local organizations. It’s open at 4316 W. Madison St. through the end of April.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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