BACK OF THE YARDS — For the past 10 years, Alfonso Bahena and his wife Petra Bautista have shopped at Marshalls at Bishop Plaza in Back of the Yards.
The couple lives a few blocks away from the store and stop by at least once a week to browse for clothes, shoes and home goods.
“There’s no other shops like it around here,” Bahena, 58, said. “We can get quality, brand name items without having to go far. We are here every week.”
On Monday, Marshalls announced it would close two South Side stores — the Back of the Yards outpost at 1422 W. 47th St. followed by a closing of the 11620 S. Marshfield Ave. in Morgan Park later this month.
The closure is a blow to the Back of the Yards family, since they do not own a car — but it’s not the first time they’ve had to seek other transit options to access stores that meet their needs. The same plaza lost a Walmart in 2017.
Now, the family will have to travel several miles to find something as “reliable” as Marshalls for school clothes or gym shoes for themselves and their four children, Bahena said.
“It’s just a bunch of dollar stores around here,” he said.
For the past six months, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) has worked to try to prevent “the impending closing” of the Marshalls at Bishop Plaza in Back of the Yards, he told Block Club Chicago.
“Their lease was tied to having a grocery store located within the plaza as well,” Lopez said. “Unfortunately, when the neighborhood Walmart closed over a year ago [in 2017] that put us in a bit of a bind to try to find a suitable grocery store tenant to keeping Marshalls inside the plaza.”
Lopez said he worked with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman to talk to numerous grocery chains to attract them to the shopping center.
“Unfortunately, because of the current climate when it comes to grocery retail and a number of class action lawsuits within that industry, most if not all grocers were uninterested opening in a new market despite the high amount of customers that are in the area,” the alderman said.
Owners of the Back of the Yards Marshalls store, which has been in the neighborhood for a decade, decided to use the no-grocer clause in the their lease and close the store, Lopez said.
“Anytime you see a reduction in the amount of economic activity in the area, it’s never a good thing,” Lopez said.
The closure is also hitting Morgan Park’s Marshfield Plaza hard. Target announced it would be closing one of its stores in the plaza late last year, and Marshalls will leave another vacancy. Target is also closing its Chatham store on the city’s South Side in February.
No Marshalls locations in the city are located within a shopping center developed with money from a tax-increment financing district that is subject to the executive order signed by Emanuel.
In November, after Target announced plans to close two South Side stores while the company used a city subsidy to build a new one on the Northwest Side, the mayor signed an executive order that requires developers of large shopping centers getting assistance from any of the city’s TIF districts to sign an affidavit declaring that it has no plans to close any stores in other parts of the city.
No Marshalls locations in the city are located within a shopping center developed with money from a tax-increment financing district that is subject to the executive order signed by Emanuel, and no Marshalls store is part of a pending TIF-financed development at the this point, officials said.
The move to close the Marshalls store comes as the retailer assesses its real estate strategies, a Marshalls spokeswoman said. Another Marshalls spokesperson would not comment on sales at the store, however, adding that “we have a longstanding practice of not commenting on individual store performance.”
All associates working in regular, non-temporary positions will be offered jobs at nearby store locations, the spokeswoman said.
“Chicago remains a very important market for us. We appreciate the loyalty of our Marshalls customers and believe they will continue to find great values at our other Marshalls Chicago store locations, five of which are located nearby on the South Side,” the Marshalls spokeswoman said.
On Tuesday, cars filled the parking lot outside the 47th Street location, with customers checking out the store’s closing sale.
Terassa Davis, 52, who was born and raised a block from the store, stopped by one last time.
“It’s a real disappointment,” Davis said. “I don’t want them to close.”
Davis, who shops at the store three times a month, said this closing would make it “burdensome” for other residents who, like her, don’t drive and rely on public transportation.
“I’m not happy about it. I will miss it,” Guillermina Gallegos said. “I shop here pretty often. I don’t want them to close, but if they do, I hope they open again in the future.”
The Back of the Yards Marshalls is expected to close at 6 p.m. Saturday.
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