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Chicago Mulls Government-Owned Grocery Store As Retailers Bolt City

Chicago is exploring the creation of a city-run grocery store as retailers flee the city.

Last year, Whole Foods and Aldi closed locations in the city. Aldi said that after 13 years, “repeated burglaries” meant enough was enough, according to the Daily Mail.

Thefts in Chicago are up 25% and robberies are up 11%, Chicago police said, according to the New York Post.

Walmart closed four stores this past spring. A statement cited losses but did not delve into the reasons for the losses.

“The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago – these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years,” Walmart said in a statement, according to Fox Business.


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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, a Democrat, said in a press release he wants to study whether the city can fill the void.

The release did not mention crime.

Instead, the release said that “Historic disinvestment has led to inequitable access to food retail across Chicago, and these existing inequities have been exacerbated as at least six grocery stores closed on the South and West sides over the past two years.

‘The Economic Security Project, a national non-profit dedicated to building economic power for all Americans, will provide technical assistance in determining a pathway to the first municipally owned grocery store in Chicago,” the release said, adding that it was part of Johnson’s mission of “repairing past harms that have contributed to purposeful disinvestment and exclusion and lack of food access in historically underserved communities.”

Should Chicago focus on its crime problem?

“Exploring innovative initiatives to support food retail is part of the Johnson administration’s broader commitment to correcting systems and practices that have created these inequities,” the release said.

Critics were not convinced.

“Take all the problems private chains face in low-income areas, then add in amateur management by a bureaucracy, Chicago-style political corruption in hiring and contracting, and a limited range of products,” Steve Boulton, chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, said, according to the Post.

“Private chains should just pull out of all the neighborhoods, because the city stores will have better police protection and lower prices subsidized by the long-suffering Chicago taxpayer.”

In a New York Post Op-Ed headlined “Commie Chicago to have state-run grocery stores instead of a solution to its crime crisis,”  Isaac Schorr wrote that from the perspective of retailers, “Rampant crime both inside and around those locations renders their continued operation a costly risk with a practically unrealizable upside.


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“If you suspect a government-run grocery-store chain in the Windy City might not thrive, that’s probably only because you have eyes to see and ears to hear. When you’re straining to walk and chew gum at the same time, it’s inadvisable to try to add juggling to the mix,” Schorr wrote.

“What’s ultimately to blame for this doomed, ‘innovative’ (Google the Soviet Union, Brandon!), whole-of-bad-government approach besides terrible economic theory is an unwillingness to confront the anchors tied around a great American city’s ankles.

“Johnson and his ilk have it backwards — it’s the lawlessness that’s the cause of the food deserts, not the other way around. Until he — or more plausibly his constituents — comes to grips with this truth, Chicago’s other half will have to settle for preposterously insufficient Band-Aids,” Schorr wrote.

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