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Whole Foods plans to close its south Evanston store at Chicago Avenue and Greenleaf Street in March.

Plans for shuttering the store — one of three Whole Foods markets in the city — were disclosed in an email newsletter sent by Alderman Melissa Wynne to 3rd Ward residents Friday evening.

Wynne says the 20-year lease on the property is running out and that the company “did extensive studies on costs associated with upgrading the existing store which has a series of structural challenges.”

She says the company also considered creating a new building with decked parking and determined the cost would be prohibitive.

She said that because the site once was an auto dealership, there are unresolved concerns about contamination on the property that would need to be further investigated and potentially remediated at an unknown cost.

“Whole Foods also looked at relocating the store and determined costs would be prohibitive,” Wynne says. “Two other Whole Foods stores in Evanston also played a factor, but the location of a Trader Joe’s nearby a few years ago was not a factor in the decision,” the alderman added.

The store is expected to close on or before Sunday, March 19.

Wynne says she’s in touch with the owners of the south Evanston store site and is committed to working with them “to find the best next use for the site that is compatible with the neighborhood.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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33 Comments

  1. Just as I predicted…
    So according to Alderman Wynne the fact there is a Jewell and a Trader Joe’s on the same block as the south Evanston Whole Foods has nothing to do with the decision to close. Sure.

    And apparently the existing store has a “series of structural challenges.” I bet the owners of the store loved to read that in the media.

    Anyone talk with Whole Foods? Maybe the city could grant Whole Foods $2 million to redesign the store.

    Remember, the city used $2 million of our tax dollars to lure Trader Joes, promising it would not affect Jewell and Whole Foods on the same block. They had a big grand opening where employees passed out Hawaiian leis. Yes, Evanston tax payers helped finance a private company. And the result is the closing of a competitor that didn’t get government financial assistance.

    I predicted on Sept. 11, 2013 that one of the three grocery stores would close. I was about four months off.

    In summary, Evanston taxpayers gave $2 million to land Trader Joe’s but now the tax revenue from the neighboring south Evanston Whole Foods is gone.

    Evanston taxpayers lose. Whole Foods loses. Trader Joe’s wins. In a few months we will get our first tax installment and it’s expected to rise dramatically for most property owners. Yeah!!!!

    Another reason to vote out all the incumbents, including Wynne.

    1. Whole Foods Has Had Plenty of assistance
      The downtown whole foods is in a TIF so they had significant public assistance for that store.

      1. Trader Joes
        Well..you may say TJ wins, but their food doesn’t compare to WF……UGH……got sick twice from their bagged lettuce, and their meats are over priced……produce is horrible…….just sayin’ and won’t shop there

        1. Trader Joes vs. Whole Foods

          Agree with you and I’m very sorry to see the backside of Whole Foods on our side of town.  My household regularly spent money in this store on organic produce and free-range/hormone free meats.  It is likely we’ll be taking our business over the border to Marianos now.  I can’t imagine traveling into downtown to fight with traffic/parking (we all have something we avoid in life and those are my aversions).  I may visit the Green Bay location when I happen to be in that area, but I’ll definitely spend A LOT less at WF and A LOT more at Marianos.
           

    2. Very poor, shortsighted decision-making

      Well stated.  Very poor, shortsighted decision-making.  Clearly the alderman senses the backlash given her defensive posturing.  Big miss — and one more example of the poor fiscal stewardship of our elected officials.  How can we feel any confidence whatsoever around the proper management of ANY tax increase?  Give more money to be mismanaged?  No.

      1. whole foods
        The store promised to remodel when it was switched from wild oats. Never happened. It was often dirty and the hot food bar was often disgusting. I stopped going. When Wynne and her colleagues passed the bag ordinance, I started going to the Marianos in Skokie. Clean, big, hot bar and grill and no bag hassle. And great customer service unlike whole foods and Jewel. I probably spend 8,000 to 10,000 there annually. Jewel gets about $600, whole foods $0. I know many people who have had the same experience. Even the renovated Jewel is still anemic. Give that store two years and it’ll be gone too. Consider another Alderman in the upcoming election.

    3. An abondance of Whole Foods stores
      Three Whole Foods stores is too many for Evanston. I’m not sad to see it go.

      1. I’m sad to see it go

        i do only a little of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods any more, but the south store is close by, so I’ll miss it. We’re vegans, and there are a few foods we eat regularly that I can only get there. I don’t like the store north on Green Bay where I’ve found the other customers are more often rude, and I find parking too difficult at the store by the main library. I haven’t had trouble with spoiled food at Trader Joe’s but often find favorite items out of stock, and the parking lot is scarily chaotic. 

    4. It certainly didn’t take a

      It certainly didn’t take a crystal ball to suspect that one of these three stores on that block wouldn’t last.  Are you honestly suggesting that one of the largest multi-national grocery mega-powers, regularly scrutinized for ripping off their customers was somehow unfairly pushed out of town?  The same company that has 2 other locations in this town of just 75k?  I will miss this store for it’s convenience, but shed no tears for them as they are more than prepared to fight their own battles for paltry city government funds had they wanted to.  Anyone who has frequented this store would not be at all surprised to hear that it is due for some major structural upgrades, and as a savy operator they knew it was time to pull the plug.   Average weekly sales for a Whole Foods store at $698k; given the size of this one I’m sure they rang a little less but there was money pumping through there if they wanted to reinvest.

      Evanston working to bring a chain with a cult following and reasonable prices to town (a store many Evanstonians used to regularly drive 25 min to visit in Glenview), is quite different than Whole Foods closing the smallest of three local store.  

      We’re lucky to be swimming in grocery-shopping options in this town.  I for one hope the land is used for something more creative than another retail/condo endeavor.  

      1. I suspect he’s not shedding a
        I suspect he’s not shedding a tear for Whole Foods. Just expressing his outrage about the $2 million subsidy for Trader Joe’s. I hadn’t known about that, and I’m outraged.

      2. Another good grocery store

        Marianos is close by…lots of great parking…great salad bar and hot bar…not to mention all the deli products and freshly baked goodies.  

    5. The Better of a Few

      I work for a grocery delivery company and am at this WF several times a day. I never struggle with parking or inventory the same way I do with the bigger stores around. I would rather they close the store closest to Northwestern, which has a more complicated layout and is more commonly out of stock of typical WF items. . It’s a shame to see this cute little store close that often is the only store that has the items in stock that my customers want!

      1. WF North

        I agree….the parking is horrendous….and getting to it is a bit scary, as people go over the lines……

        I only go to the one on Green Bay Rd.   or Sauganash……

      2. Very Sorry to see South WF close

        I am so sad to hear this news.  I go to WF South on foot at least 4 times a week.  People are friendly. Always have what I want.  Nice little give aways occasionally.  I love shopping just when I need it and not have to get in a car and buy a bunch.  I am really disappointed.  WF please stay!!!

        1. sad to see it go

          I’ll miss it when it goes.  Agree it is a friendly and convenient little shop; quick in-and-out, and I’ll miss the easy access.

    6. I’ll miss it

      I’m a Chicago resident that often crosses into Evanston to contribute tax dollars by shopping at the Evanston South location. Now I’ll just stay South of the line. I’ll really miss this small, easy to navigate (and park) WF. The store north of this one is a zoo.

  2. Sad to see them go

    The southeast Evanston Whole Foods is our go-to grocery store so I’m sad to see it go. I’m curious, what would people like to come next?

    1. Big Mess
      I would like to see Trader Joe’s go next. How many recalls, of their brand name, did they have last year? Was it over a dozen?

      1. Sounds like a great idea, a bowling alley

        It would be great to have a bowling alley there.  Something Evantson does not have.

        1. Bowling Alley

          Perhaps you’ll have better luck over on your side of town.  We tried for a bowling alley at the recycling center, but Smylie Brothers apparently wanted the spot and, as we all know, revenue before residents….  At least we will get a beer garden – eventually.  I read Rainey’s comment in the Roundtable that said a beer garden is ~4 years out.  Any bets that we’ll get one at all?  Promises, promises…. anything to quiet the rabble so that we can add an option to purchase that city-owned property 10 years down the road.  Just more picking favorites/winners.

          1. Bowling alley in Evanston

            The problem with the bowling alley is that no one presented a plan and funding to create it. There were several people who wanted the bowling alley, a unique entertainment venue that is missing in Evanston. Rainey and the city staff made a very public ask for a bowling alley. The problem is no one answered.

            When the city asked for proposals, only three businesses responded and unfortunately a bowling alley was not one of them. If a bowling alley had been presented and was chosen, there are people who would have claimed that Rainey’s public request for a bowling alley and the subsequent selection of one, would have been “picking favorites/winners.”

            Yes, Smylie Brothers wanted the spot. They presented a very sound business plan for the property and have the private financing to build it, and I am glad the building will finally be put to use and generating revenue to pay for services and programs for its residents. I have no reason to believe the beer garden will not be built, and t is smart for Smylies to prioritize their build-out concentrating on the beer production first.

             

             

  3. Sad to see any South Evanston business close
    While I’m sad to see WF or any South Evanston business shut their doors I admittedly haven’t spent a lot of time or money at this location. Based on prices and overall shopping experience it’s somewhat telling when I estimate where my grocery dollars are spent:

    40% Mariano’s (Skokie) – high quality, fair prices, large and easy to navigate store, great ready-to-eat selections, lower alcohol taxes (Evanston is 18%)
    20% Valli (Evanston) – fruit/vegetable/meat/seafood price, quality and variety, great selection of international goods, easy parking
    10-15% – Marketplace on Oakton (Skokie) – my go-to for fruits, vegetables and meat before Valli opened; still a great store that I visit often
    10-15% – Jewel (Howard St. Chicago) – shop the sales; good for basics and staples; easy parking
    5-10% – Trader Joe’s (Evanston) – Quality products, great cheese, wine (even with E-town’s liquor tax) and frozen goods
    5-10% – Aldi (Evanston) – Many high-quality products from the same parent company as Trader Joe’s
    1-5% – Jewel (Howard St. Evanston) – much prefer the Chicago locaton, but sometimes I forget something on the way home from Mariano’s
    1-5% – Whole Foods (Evanston) – reserved for a splurge for top-quality meats, seafood and cheeses

    So at least 60% (probably closer to 70-75%) of my grocery dollars are spent outside of Evanston. I typically won’t touch the Jewel on Chicago Ave. unless it’s very convenient or I’m already at Trader Joe’s. Tiny and cluttered; reminds me of the Jewel of old and not in a good way. Sure wish I could spend more in Evanston and still feel like I’m getting a fair value. Would be interested to hear where others’ grocery dollars go.

    1. Grocery Stores

      Whole Foods is exquisite but way too expensive for me. Never shop there  

      I love the Valli’s  in Evanston – nice staff, eager to please, good produce, meat, bakery, variety, deli. Great prices on most items  I also shop at Oakton Market and Aldi’s, Village Market on Dempster/Crawford – good meat and fish and produce and deli, jewel on Howard or Food for Less on Main for bulk or special items. Occasionally Hungarian Kosher,  best ribs and good lamb, fish and produce also found at at Fresh Farms which is on Touhy/Lehigh and also on Golf  I pick one or two of these depending on the Wednesday ads.

      1. Grocery Prices

        There are MANY foods at WF that are not more expensive than others…..gotta learn how to shop, and buy their 365 brand….and you can trust the quality of what they sell.  

      2. Hungarian Kosher? Must check
        Hungarian Kosher? Must check this out! Thanks for the tip.

        The oddest part of the story is the reference to “contamination” that may keep a new business from moving in. How did they have a food store there?

      3. food stores

        My second to the Whole Foods 365 brands ate the Roundys brands at Marianos……excellent products and hot and salad bars are great also……LOTS of weekly and Friday coupons as well.  

    2. Where our grocery dollars went in 2016

      Where our grocery dollars went in 2016 — this was an interesting exercise. We moved from NW to S Evanston halfway through the year, and we’re vegans, so traditional stores like Jewel usually have fewer good options for us. I used Quicken to calculate percentages, and in some cases the totals included supplements.

      We spent 32% at Village Marketplace in Skokie, my favorite produce market, where we get several favorite items (Jaffa hummus, Cedar’s hummus, Papa Filin’s pita, freshly made dolmades and guacamole).

      We spent 30% at Whole Foods for the year but that percentage has been dropping.

      We spent just 10% at Trader Joe’s, their tendency to run out of items is a big factor, and the tense-making parking lot.

      We spent 17% at Costco, 3-1/2% at JD Mills (their dried fruits and nuts are good), 3% at Jewel (much of it for nonedibles like laundry detergent), and the rest at YoFresh (their chocolate and mango sorbets are favorite desserts) and Valli (where on my first visit I think the cashier was having a bad day so I haven’t become a regular customer but probably will now that we’re closer). 

  4. Grocery Row

    Since we walk to the store, it will be missed. But the downtown location is not much farther and the northside store is an easy bike ride.

    We who live near “grocery row” are spoiled by our choices: a commodity chain store, a specialty store with prepared frozen and packaged meals, and a high end produce market with a hot bar.

    The city’s Main-Dempster Mile organization will be challenged to find a replacement.

    Evanston’s three Whole Foods are very different from each other and the one that is closing is the most dispensable.

    It is interesting that as we lose a store, Whole Foods opens a new store in Chicago’s southside “food desert”. A store that can only exist by offering prices below others in the Whole Foods chain.

     

  5.  I find theJewel across the

     I find theJewel across the street dirty with crowded aisles and revised locations of products so I’m always relearning where things are.  The aisles are narrow and crashes frequent at the ends of aisles with cross-traffic.  City Council has given markets on Chicago enough $$ support.  I think we need a new alderman.

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