Save A Lot closes grocery store in Austin food desert

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The loss of the Save-A-Lot store in the city's Austin neighborhood could create an even bigger food desert for that area, creating an even bigger challenge for residents.

Brenda White and Deborah Tyler live a few doors down from the Save A Lot store. It is the closest place to get groceries, or at least it was. They came by Thursday to discover the store has closed its doors. Tyler said she often came every other day, just to get something that's needed.

Former customers have been coming by all day only to learn the store is closed. Save A Lot's exit leaves the neighborhood with relatively few options for fresh fruits and vegetables and other groceries. Some call the area a food desert.

West Side State Representative La Shawn Ford said many in the neighborhood depended on Save A Lot.

"There are stores around on the West Side of Chicago, but for people that depend on public transportation or walking to Save A Lot, this will be devastating for them," Ford said.

A company spokesperson offered no insight on why they chose to close the store, instead issuing a statement saying: "We take the decision to close any Save A Lot location very seriously and regularly review our stores on a number of factors. As part of this review, we made the difficult decision to forgo our lease renewal for our Chicago store."

Alderman Emma Mitts said she's been concentrating her efforts on trying to get the company to reverse course and stay here. Now she'll focus on trying to find someone to fill the void.

"We'll have a commitment that we will keep working to bring in another grocery there," Ald. Mitts said.

State representative Ford says he believes the store was profitable and he hopes to find a local owner rather than an out-of-state company to move into this location.
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