By Erick Johnson
Walgreens said it will reopen stores that had been closed after they were damaged during the George Floyd protests in June, according to a spokesperson for parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Responding to an email from the Crusader, Walgreens Spokesperson Erin Loverher said the retailer has been busy working “around-the-clock to get temporarily closed stores back up and operating as quickly as possible. Due to extensive damage, it will take a bit longer to bring some back online, up to several weeks.”
Loverher did not say how much damage the stores suffered but noted that efforts were being made to help its affected regular customers. Two Walgreens stores in Chatham had been operating mobile pharmacies under tents in the store’s parking lots to help customers access their prescriptions.
Walgreens’ plan to reopen its damaged stores is a relief to residents who were concerned that Walgreens would not reopen stores in Black neighborhoods.
Many Black neighborhoods are still reeling from the closures of many Walgreens stores in 2017. Last year, the Walgreens store at 211 E. 95th Street in Calumet Heights was among 200 locations that were shuttered as part of the retailer’s effort to revamp its portfolio. At a community meeting, residents there expressed their frustration to Alderman Gregory Mitchell (7th Ward), but Walgreens closed the store anyway.
Walgreens is the latest retailer to announce that it will reopen its damaged stores.
Last month, Walmart said it will reopen its stores in Chatham and Bronzeville after they were looted in early June as thousands protested the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer. Supermarket giant Jewel-Osco has reopened all its stores after they were heavily damaged during the protests.
Discount stores Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree have yet to officially announce whether they will reopen many of their stores that remain boarded up. On Monday, a clerk at Family Dollar at 76th St. and Stony Island said the store will reopen but said he did not know when.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot drew criticism from Black leaders after Chicago police allowed looters to ransack many businesses in Black neighborhoods as they patrolled the streets. While Chicago’s downtown was heavily guarded with Chicago police and members of the National Guard, many businesses in Black neighborhoods were left unprotected and suffered some of the worst losses in the city.
Walgreens was one of them. The Crusader counted at least five Walgreens’ stores in South Shore, Washington Park, Hyde Park and Chatham that were still closed and boarded up on Monday, July 6.
“Walgreens has been here for more than 100 years and our commitment to Chicago neighborhoods is central to our business.”
There are far fewer Walgreens stores on Chicago’s West Side. Three days after it was looted, one Walgreens on Roosevelt and Homan in Lawndale reopened.
Last month, Walgreens announced that it will give $50,000 donations to the Chicago Urban League and to My Block, My Hood, My City.
Walgreens said its donation to My Block, My Hood, My City, will support one of the organization’s flagship programs, the Explorers Program.
Explorers is focused on introducing high school students to companies and places the students have not seen before. In its fifth year, the Explorers Program is currently in 10 schools, serving 150 students every school year. The funds from Walgreens will be used to sponsor two schools for an entire upcoming school year.
Walgreens said the company’s contribution to the Chicago Urban League will go towards the organization’s programs designed to foster economic development. The Urban League’s programs include its Center for Entrepreneurship; a COVID Community Help Center to provide assistance for small business, job seekers and the community at large; and its IMPACT Leadership Development Program, a mentoring program for African American professionals.
“Walgreens donations today to My Block, My Hood, My City and to the Chicago Urban League are part of our company’s broader efforts to foster racial justice, support the communities we serve and create opportunity,” said Carlos Cubia, vice president and global chief diversity officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
“We will continue to find ways to advance our commitment to diversity, inclusion and support for people of color in our hometown of Chicago and beyond.”