DePaul students study ethnic grocery store impact

June 15, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"We tried to take a look at how they affect the way people experience neighborhoods. How they eat, how they experiment with new foods, how they mix with different cultures," said Professor Joe Schwieterman of DePaul University.

With nearly a dozen ethnic grocery stores, Uptown is predominantly Asian. Here at the Broadway Supermarket, adventurous shoppers can find all the taro root, jackfruit and exotic greens imaginable. Schwieterman says these tiny gems are scattered throughout the city.

"Especially on the Northwest Side and on the North Side; here in Uptown, Albany Park, Rogers Park, they're just everywhere, but then you go to Chinatown or even the West Side, there's pockets," said Schwieterman.

"People were actually a little bit more familiar with ethnic grocery stores than what we originally thought they would be," said Ryan Forst, one of the students who conducted the study.

Most of these stores are able to carry smaller amounts of specific items, and also carry a wider variety. They also provide shoppers a sense of community.

"They come into these stores and they feel connected to their neighbor because they see how people live," said Schwieterman.

So some conclusions: the survey found that there are more than 200 ethnic grocery stores in the city of Chicago; about half of them - no surprise - are Mexican. The neighborhood with the most ethnic grocery stores continues to be Albany Park, on the city's Northwest Side. But here's the interesting thing about what they found: most people who were interviewed revealed that having ethnic grocery stores really expands their horizons, getting them to try new foods, plus, it adds some spontaneity to their culinary lives.

Broadway Supermarket
4879 N. Broadway St.

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