'We feel abandoned': Chatham residents pack Walmart Supercenter before closure on Sunday

Walmart pharmacy locations to remain open up to 30 days after 4 store closures, company says

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Sunday, April 16, 2023
South Side residents pack Walmart Supercenter before closure
Is Walmart leaving Chicago? Chatham residents packed their local store on Saturday, which is closing on Sunday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was packed at the Walmart Supercenter in Chatham in the final days before four Walmart stores across the city close on Sunday.

Customers there said they're devastated for their community.

"I feel distraught. Now, you're going to take away the one store that did provide for us? It's horrible how they're treating us," said Wanda Esmon. "Don't look for the numbers to go up all the time. Look what you're doing for the people around you."

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Because of a lack profits, theft and security issues, Walmart announced four Chicago locations are closing on Sunday. That includes the supercenter in Chatham and three neighborhood markets in Lakeview, Little Village and Bronzeville.

"Just what it's doing to the community, as far as taking them out of their way now," said Jamar Bennett.

This frustration is not new for Chatham residents, but neighbors were hopeful for Walmart to stay after voicing their concerns over the closures.

"Now, I don't know where we are going to go to shop. It's a food desert," said Kenyatta Washington. "I would like this area to look no different than other areas that I visit. There is Mariano's. There is Whole Foods. There is Target, Walmart. What's so different about this neighborhood? We pay taxes, too."

Walmart said its pharmacies will remain open for up to 30 days following the store closures, but neighbors said that's still a big void to fill.

"These communities are already struggling. There's 15 currency exchanges and no banks. There's dialysis clinics, and there's no healthcare facilities. We've got liquor stores on almost every other corner, but there's no fresh juice, no fresh smoothies. And, now we feel abandoned. We feel neglected. We feel discarded," said Jahmal Cole, the founder of My Block, My Hood, My City.

Cole said another big business pulling out of the South Side of Chicago makes it feel impossible to thrive.

READ MORE | Chicago Walmart stores closing: Why some big box stores can't turn a profit in urban areas

My Block, My Hood, My City will be passing out 1,000 boxes of food to residents at noon on Sunday in the Walmart parking lot to show them they care.

"Tomorrow, we're going to do a feed the people rally right here to show them that we are unified, and we are going to advocate for people that need our support," Cole said.

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson said he's committed to finding ways to fill the gaps these closures leave behind and find creative solutions to re-purpose soon-to-be empty facilities to benefit the community.