Whole Foods Market was more than a grocery store for the community in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

When the specialty grocer arrived with much fanfare and pride six years ago as the anchor tenant of the Englewood Square retail development, it was touted as an expected game changer for one of the city’s most economically challenged neighborhoods. At the groundbreaking, then-co-CEO of Whole Foods Walter Robb reportedly said the store would be “one of the most meaningful things we’ve done as a company.”

By mid-2017, the Englewood store was one of four stores in impoverished neighborhoods out of the chain’s fleet of more than 460 U.S. locations at the time.

Fast forward a few years later: The store closed in late 2022 — sparking backlash from city officials and community leaders. Whole Foods has remained taciturn about the exit, which was announced along with five other store closures.

“As we continue to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we regularly evaluate the performance and growth potential of each of our stores, and we have made the difficult decision to close six stores,” a Whole Foods spokesperson told Bloomberg at the time the plans were announced. A spokesperson for Whole Foods declined to provide further information to Grocery Dive about why the Englewood store closed.

Whole Foods’ presence in Englewood — and the supermarket’s closure — were felt deeply by locals who worked at and shopped at the store, sources told Grocery Dive. In its wake, sources say questions remain about why Whole Foods left.

For some, the closure is a reminder of large grocery chains that have put down roots in low-income communities of color just to leave a few years, or even months, later. Under the larger, looming question of how to solve disparities in access to affordable and healthy foods, here’s what grocers can learn from Whole Foods’ operation and closing of the Englewood location.

Read the full article about Whole Foods closing a store in a poor neighborhood by Catherine Douglas Moran at Grocery Dive.