By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
The announced closing of the Maywood Aldi’s grocery store brought out the big political “guns” Wednesday with Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th) holding on to “faith” that the store will not close on Christmas Eve, to Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. saying the store’s closing will compound the “food desert” issue in the Black community.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin held a press conference outside the Aldi store at 215 W. Madison in Maywood, where he was joined by Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th), Maywood Mayor Edweena Perkins, Reverend Marvin Wiley, Bill Hampton, brother of deceased Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and community residents. “I understand based on the meetings we had with Aldi, why they are closing,” said Boykin.
Addressing the media, Reverend Jackson said, “It appears that Aldi’s is expanding stores, but stores in Maywood, on 87th Street in Chicago, and one in Peoria, IL are closing. These stores are in the neediest communities, in Black communities. It’s adding to the food desert.”
Jackson said there should be a tax subsidy given to the grocery chain through the county and state. “That is the kind of social contract” that could possibly have kept that store open” he said.
Representative Davis said, “We’re trying to keep money flowing into communities that are hard-pressed and in great need of economic development. Any time something leaves is a difference than something coming….
“We know that there are individuals who are hard pressed in communities all over the country, and we have to use every bit of creativity and ingenuity we can come up with to try and keep hope alive and keep the money circulating so that money becomes a part of the economy and tax base,” he said
Davis said many communities are “hard pressed right now because of the lack of jobs. There used to be a time when this community thrived because there were major employers here. As they left, the community became economically depressed. “
Davis confirmed that Aldi will close the Maywood store on Christmas Eve, having “finally told us they were not earning money at the store and without money, you can’t make it. I implore the residents of Maywood” to support their stores. Davis wants enough economic viability to sustain local businesses.
“People of faith find a way to enjoy the holidays even though some peoples’ stockings are empty, but if you got faith, you still believe that the Santa Claus of faith will be with you and you will do all right. Faith is what we need and we’ll keep trying to make it here.”
Explaining why Aldi’s decided to close the Maywood store on Christmas Eve, Commissioner Boykin said, “They decided to close because of a declining shopper rate at that store. For the past ten-years, it has had the lowest shopper per day rate in Cook County and couple that with an 80 percent increase in property taxes over the past six-years.
“I did get a commitment from them to provide a transportation shuttle from the Village of Maywood to Aldi’s other three stores located in Broadview, Melrose Park, and Bellwood beginning on December 26th.
It will be a three-day shuttle service, Boykin said, explaining that customers will be taken to one of those nearby stores Monday through Wednesday.
“Maywood village officials have lifted any restrictions on the sale of the Aldi property. So, if another grocer wants to buy the property, they can,” said Boykin. Boykin said Aldi announced that no jobs at the Maywood location would be lost. They are transferring those employees to their other stores.
“When dealt lemons, you have to make lemonade. You have to make the best of a terrible situation. We have established a dialogue with them that will continue beyond the December 24th store closure,” said Boykin.
He said the transportation accord is guaranteed for a year, allowing the village to have a bridge to work over the next few months to bring a full service grocer into the Village of Maywood.