WEST RIDGE — Chicagoans really like Trader Joe’s.
Now, West Ridge residents want to make their case to Trader Joe’s executives. In late September, the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce joined with the West Ridge Community Organization to start a petition that aims to bring a store from the grocery chain to the area.
The petition has 550 signatures and more than 150 comments.
Larissa Tyler, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said her organization started the official campaign after hearing for years from residents and business leaders who want a Trader Joe’s.
“Residents are always talking about it,” Tyler said. “It’d be a great opportunity for Trader Joe’s to come in. There’s a want and demand for it.”
The petition is meant to show how much support there is for a local Trader Joe’s. Once it circulates, the chamber will bring its petition to Trader Joe’s and will seek a public meeting with executives, Tyler said.
A community “town hall” on the desire for a Trader Joe’s will be held with or without Trader Joe’s officials in attendance, she said.
“We want to have a discussion,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll be compelled to at least investigate bringing a store here.”
Trader Joe’s is known for wide-ranging food products that could appeal to West Ridge’s diverse population. The chain’s popular kosher line would be a hit with West Ridge’s large Jewish population, neighbors said.
When a vacancy or development pops up, Trader Joe’s is often on the list of most desired businesses. At a meeting over the redevelopment of a Baker’s Square at Western and Touhy avenues, the developer mentioned multiple times why the lot wouldn’t be sufficient for Trader Joe’s.
In 2014, neighbors sought to have Trader Joe’s open in the closed Dominck’s on Damen Avenue, even reaching out to the company, said Evelyn Miks, chair of the West Ridge Community Organization.
A Cermak Fresh Market opened there instead.
Neighbors “talk about how we can build community development in the neighborhood, and Trader Joe’s is always mentioned,” Miks said. “People are really enthusiastic about it.”
West Ridge’s Devon Avenue is full of ethnic grocery stores, and they are very popular with residents, Tyler said. But she said Trader Joe’s would give people who prefer to drive a convenient option.
“They want to drive somewhere, park and shop,” Tyler said.
Trader Joe’s closest locations to West Ridge is in suburban Evanston or at 3745 N. Lincoln Ave. in North Center.
The Evanston location is often crowded, and a drive to North Center is not always in the cards, Miks said.
A Trader Joe’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The store does have a mechanism on its website for bringing Trader Joe’s to new areas.
Trader Joe’s would help build up a diverse West Ridge community while filling a need with residents, neighbors who signed the petition say.
“It’s 2020 and areas of the city that aren’t affluent white neighborhoods need and deserve more attention,” one supporter wrote. “Opening up a new store here would create job opportunities as well as a new source of affordable food for people who need it.”
To sign the petition, click here.
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