Joe Canfield just wants to let people in so they could see for themselves.
The opening of a Save A Lot in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago has been on pause for months due to concerns from residents, and there are no signs Canfield, who is the CEO of Yellow Banana, which owns the store and is rehabbing the premises, will be able to make that one final, convincing point any time soon.
A Town Hall meeting was held on May 3, and shoppers in the neighborhood are still fired up over the decision to replace a Whole Foods with a Save A Lot at West 63rd and Halsted.
“We are new owners of Save A Lot and we’re more than willing to be judged on how we operate that store in Englewood,” Canfield said on the SN Off the Shelf podcast. “We just want to get the doors open to do it.
“We run a model by which we can deliver affordable, healthy, safe options to people,” he continued. “And we know they need it, we know they need our help and we want to open the doors and get that done.”
Canfield admits he is not sure how it “all went sideways.” The Yellow Banana team and Save A Lot (Saint Ann, Mo.) officials were getting ready to open the Englewood store earlier in the year, and on Jan. 10 a meeting took place with community leaders that had engaged with the new owners about the grocery shift. Protestors, however, prevented the store from officially starting the business, and that is when the community involvement pulled back.
“We kept reaching out, we kept asking for involvement,” remarked Canfield. “We did not get a lot of engagement from groups and we had to keep pressing forward because at some point you got to get the store open. You’re paying the electric bill and you got expenses and you’re bringing inventory in, and you have got to sell that inventory.
“So we’re really trying to look forward and not look backwards, and we are hopeful that we can get there pretty quick.”
But the situation has to be perfect, and all of the neighborhood concerns need to be addressed. As anxious as Canfield is to get the operation running, he knows exactly what lays in front of him.
“As of now we’re still voluntarily pausing to try to work through any open issues that folks have.”
Listen to this interview, which also includes questions about Yellow Banana’s $26.5 million deal to rehab a number of stores in Chicago, in its entirety.