Chicago's latest Walmart location -- a 14,800-square-foot "express" store -- opened Wednesday in the heart of the city's Lakeview neighborhood.
The store marks the city's second Walmart Express location, arriving about three months after the opening of a similarly sized store in Chatham on the South Side in late July. The stores are part of the first phase of the Bentonville, Ark. retail giant's plan to open just under a dozen new stores within Chicago's city limits in the near future.
The store, located at 3636 N. Broadway St., is located near both a Jewel supermarket and a Walgreens store, according to Crain's Chicago Business, and has been strategically located to lure some of those businesses' customers away with their low prices on fresh produce, health items and other products.
The store was initially met with vocal community protest. The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce posted a blog this summer expressing frustration over a lack of warning they had before Walmart signed a lease for the new "express" store. Further, they contend they say the company's "business practices and ethics in which they operate that leads to a negative impact on small businesses and an entire community."
The store's Wednesday opening was attended by Ald. James Cappleman (46th), whose ward hosts the new store. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) was also on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, WBEZ reports.
Cappleman said he was pleased with how the retailer reached out to the tight-knit Lakeview community as it began plans to move into the space, according to WBEZ. A Walmart spokesperson said the store would create between 45 and 50 new jobs, including for several transgender employees. During the ribbon-cutting, Walmart also announced they were offering grants to several community groups including the Howard Brown Health Center, Center on Halsted and Lakeview Presbyterian Church.
Of his company's planned Chicago expansion, Walmart Executive Vice President Tom Mars said this summer "there is no venue that presents a better opportunity for us than Chicago. ... [T]his is not the first urban market that we have entered, or pretended to enter, but it is a critically important one to us and we are absolutely committed to doing it right."
Walmart is also planning to open another, larger Lakeview store at the intersection of Broadway and Surf Streets, about a mile away from the newly opened "express" location. That store is currently slated for a spring 2012 opening. Other stores, ranging from the company's trademark supercenters to other "express" stores are clated to open in neighborhoods including West Englewood, West Chatham and River North within the next year, according to Crain's.