What was supposed to be a soft opening for a neighborhood grocery store on Chicago’s South Side became a flashpoint for community protest and anger on Wednesday.
As a result, the operators of a planned Save A Lot grocery store in Englewood determined it was best to hold off on the opening.
“We heard from the community tonight and the aldermen that they would like us to take a different approach, and we want to listen to them,” said Joe Canfield, CEO of Yellow Banana, the company that operates Save A Lot.
“So, I think being a good corporate citizen and a good business person is listening to the communities you operate in. We’ve done a lot of community outreach. It’s clear that we have to do more,” Canfield said in video obtained by the Defender.
Organizers behind the event planned to do a “meet and greet” with community members, serving food samples and previewing the new store at the old Whole Foods location near 63rd and Halsted in Englewood.
However, protesters and local officials like Alds. Stephanie Coleman (16th), Raymond Lopez (15th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) showed up to denounce Save A Lot’s opening.
There is a perception that Save A Lot, a discount grocer with several locations in Chicago, sells food items that don’t meet the baseline standard of quality and freshness.
Lopez took to social media to air out his grievance with Yellow Banana by tweeting “Shut. It. DOWN” with the hashtag #RottenBanana.
Shut. It. DOWN ✊🏿✊🏽 #RottenBanana pic.twitter.com/vG5H0MvEuk
— Ald. Raymond Lopez (@RLopez15thWard) April 5, 2023
The Resident Association of Englewood (RAGE), one of the protest’s main organizers, reported in an Instagram post that it was notified of the Save A Lot opening celebration less than 24 hours before the event and press conference. In that same post, RAGE stated it was holding off on any more protests “until the meeting with Yellow Banana takes place.”
Canfield said Yellow Banana wants to meet with local officials and residents to resolve their differences and open a store that meets the community’s needs.
Until then, the Save A Lot launch is on hold.
“We’re not always going to be perfect,” said Canfield, “but when we make mistakes, we’re going to own those mistakes. We’re going to listen to our customers, and we’re going to try and do better, and we’re going to try and incorporate that feedback into how we move forward.”