Specialty grocery store Treasure Island opened its newest store on Chicago’s South Side, helping to fill the need for grocers in minority neighborhoods after the closings of Dominick’s and the Hyde Park Co-Op.
Behind the news:
An analysis by The Chicago Reporter found that the rate of grocery stores in white neighborhoods was 4.63 per 10,000 residents, compared with 3.24 in black and 4.24 in Latino neighborhoods. The Reporter analyzed 1,181 stores and Chicago businesses that hold current packaged-goods licenses, such as Aldi, Dominick’s, Jewel, Target and local mom-and-pop grocers, provided by the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Licensing.
Thirty-five percent of those licenses were given to liquor stores. The rate of liquor stores selling food in black and Latino neighborhoods was 1.76 and 1.12 respectively, compared with 1.24 in white neighborhoods. Many of these stores, roughly 58 percent, were located in neighborhoods with median incomes below Chicago’s median income, like Auburn Gresham, Austin and Logan Square.
In 2006, the Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group produced a report showing areas where few or no grocery stores were located, called “food deserts.” “It’s hard because you eat everyday,” said Gallagher. “You can decide to not take a vacation [or] not to go to Blockbuster. But people need to eat.”
Frances Spencer, assistant commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said she recognizes a need for additional grocery stores as a result of Gallagher’s work. Spencer heads Retail Chicago, an outreach program to attract retail and service providers to underserved areas. Spencer helped organize the city’s second annual grocery store expo in 2007 at Navy Pier. Executives from independent and chain grocery stores were able to look at properties available for construction in various neighborhoods.