Every Chicago Market Owner and enthusiast is shouting it from the hilltops (sea level, actually): We have a store location!
And it’s official. On May 9, CTA officials announced that the architectural marvel known as the Gerber Building will henceforth be home to Chicago Market – A Community Co-op.
As thrilling as it is to finally have a site, what’s even more spine-tingling is that the future site of our Co-op sits squarely in the middle of one of the North Side’s most diverse Chicago neighborhoods it intends to serve. Uptown.
What makes the Wilson El stop such an ideal spot for Chicago Market? Let’s count the ways…
1. Location, location, location. The store will be situated in the historic Gerber Building underneath the elevated tracks at the Wilson station, which hosts two heavily traveled CTA routes (Red and Purple lines). Uptown is also convenient to our Co-op’s intended service area, which includes the neighborhoods of Lakeview, Andersonville, Ravenswood, Edgewater, Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Albany Park, North Center and Roscoe Village. Shoppers from those areas can walk, bus, bike or drive (construction plans include a 40-space parking lot!). And our well-lit, active and engaged business at the corner of Wilson and Broadway is destined to become a neighborhood gathering place and vibrant community resource.
2. Consumer demand. With “fresh healthy food” as our focus, our community-owned and democratically run grocery story will meet consumer demand for a non-big-box-non-conventional grocery store that is focused on local, sustainable and natural groceries and other goods. And we have the metrics to prove it. Chicago Market boasts more than 1,080 (and counting!) Owners, 2,950 petition signers and thousands of residents who have attended our Pop-Up Markets, info sessions and community meetings. Our potential shoppers are also looking forward to our unprecedented commitment to sourcing transparency and healthy-food education.
3. Employment opportunities. In partnership with community organizations like Back on My Feet, Heartland Alliance, ONE Northside and Alternatives, as well as Truman College, Chicago Market aims to become the employer-of-choice for Uptown. Upon opening we anticipate hiring 60-80 grocery-experienced and grocery-newbie staffers, with expanded employment opportunities as Chicago Market matures. We hope to employ as many people as possible from within the Uptown neighborhood.
4. Economic empowerment. Once fully operational, Chicago Market projects we will inject sales of more than $9 million into Uptown’s local economy – in our first year! Ka-ching! In fact, a National Cooperative Grocers Association report stated that the average co-op generates $1,604 for the local economy for every $1000 spent by shoppers.
5. Community involvement. Approximately 20 local businesses have already become Owners and/or active supporters of Chicago Market, including Scratch Goods, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine and Breslin Farms. These businesses are joined by 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, as well as countless Uptown and nearby community organizations and neighborhood associations who believe our mission-driven grocery will bring great value to the area.
Just what will the Co-op mean to the residents and business partners of Uptown? To find out, we asked Martin Sorge, Executive Director of Uptown United and Business Partners, The Chamber for Uptown:
“Chicago Market will add to Uptown’s uniqueness, turning what was a faded architectural gem into a locally and democratically owned business at the decisive corner of Wilson and Broadway. This intersection already sees more pedestrian traffic than comparable parts of nearby Andersonville and Edgewater – approximately 13,600 people per day, by our estimates.
“In addition to the goods it will sell and jobs it will provide, Chicago Market will further our efforts to continually build our community. The Co-op has already shown us it’s an amazing local partner, having worked with our residents, local businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations in a number of ways. We’re also hopeful that Chicago Market shoppers from outside Uptown will explore our neighborhood and visit other businesses in the area. After all, we know how important “buying local” is to Chicago Market’s Owners!
“In fact, as soon as the lease was signed I, too, became a proud Chicago Market Owner -- #1090!”
Won’t you join him?