Little Village residents rallied outside the Walmart to protest its impending closure this Sunday. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

LITTLE VILLAGE — Southwest Siders rallied outside the Little Village Walmart Friday afternoon, blasting the company for pulling out of the neighborhood.

The Little Village location, 2551 W. Cermak Road, is one of four Chicago stores the company will close Sunday due to poor sales and lack of profitability. Three of the locations are on the South and West sides.

Two of Isabel Neri Flores’ daughters during the rally outside the Little Village Walmart on April 14, 2023. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

Isabel Neri Flores and her three daughters were among the group of neighbors who gathered outside the store Friday afternoon, lamenting its impending loss in the community.

Flores, who’s lived in Little Village for 14 years, said the neighborhood Walmart was her go-to for low-cost essentials and prescriptions for the entire family. The store is within walking distance of her home, whereas other pharmacies are a bus ride away, she said.

“And they’re all more expensive,” Flores said.

Maria Sorrono said she’s worked at the Little Village Walmart for about seven years. She said the store is always full of people who say they depend on it for their weekly shopping.

Employees were told by the company they could transfer to another store, but only until August, Sorrono said. After that, Sorrono said she isn’t sure what she’ll do.

“I’m outraged and angry, just like the customers,” Sorrono said.

Juan Rodriguez with a sign that reads, “Walmart robs the town,” in Spanish on April 14, 2023. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

Juan Rodriguez, who lives just a block away from the store, said he thought it was a joke when he stopped by earlier this week and the employee told him the store was closing in five days. He said he’s worried about where he’ll get his medications after it closes.

“And it’s not only me, it’s my neighbors and I also have my mom,” Rodriguez said. “I’ll have to take the bus, which isn’t great. Now it’s fine, but when it gets bad weather?”

Alicia Chavez said she came to the rally because she knows how important the neighborhood Walmart is to nearby residents.

“I know the people need this Walmart open,” Chavez said.

The corporate giant joins a list of grocers and major retailers — including AldiWhole Foods and Target — that have abandoned disinvested communities after promising to be good neighbors.

In 2021, Walmart committed to investing $50 million in eight Chicago stores, including the Little Village location.

A company representative previously said there is no plan to reopen the stores and will work with city officials to find other options for the buildings.

“We are grateful to our associates for their contributions to their communities and for the customers who have given us the privilege of serving them at these Chicago locations,” a company spokesperson said in a statement Friday.

South Side leaders said earlier this week they want Walmart officials to meet with community leaders and call off their plans to close. They threatened to boycott the mega-retailer and hold future rallies.

In addition to the Little Village locations, the stores closing Sunday are:

  • Chatham Supercenter, the Walmart Health Center and the Walmart Academy, 8431 S. Stewart Ave. 
  • Kenwood Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave. 
  • Lakeview Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway

Little Village residents will be left with a Pete’s Fresh Market across the street and a Cermak Fresh Market nearly 2 miles away, along with smaller mom-and-pop stores.

Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd), whose Little Village ward neighbors the Walmart on Cermak Road, said while there are other grocery stores in the area, people might not be able to easily switch prescriptions from Walmart’s pharmacy to others.

“The fact that another pharmacy is leaving our community is deeply concerning,” he said.

Rodriguez rallied with neighbors last summer to try and prevent a CVS in Little Village at 26th Street and Pulaski Road from closing. It ultimately did.

After the closures, four Walmart stores will remain in Chicago: 4650 W. North Ave. in Austin, 4626 W. Diversey Ave. in Hermosa, 10900 S. Doty Ave. in Pullman and 7535 S. Ashland Ave. in Auburn Gresham.

Help Block Club Get
500 More Subscribers!

Subscribe to Block Club now and you’ll get a free 16-by-20-inch Chicago neighborhood print of your choice, helping us reach our goal of getting 500 more subscribers before 2024. Click here to subscribe or click here to gift a subscription.

Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: