The only Aldi grocery store location in West Garfield Park has closed, leaving the community with only one grocery store — the Save-A-Lot location at 420 S. Pulaski Rd. 

The Aldi store was located at 3835 W. Madison St., at the east end of the Madison/Pulaski commercial corridor. The exact timing of the closing is unclear. Reports of the store’s closing started appearing on social media on Oct. 9 and by Oct. 11, the store’s sign was gone and workers could be seen removing shelves and other furniture from the building. 

Aldi didn’t respond to calls and emails seeking comment, but a Google search for the store at 3835 W. Madison St. returns a search result showing that the store is permanently closed. Attempts to reach 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin, whose district includes the store, were unsuccessful. 

The grocery store chain still has four locations in or near the West Side, and West Garfield Park still has a handful of stores that stock fresh food. But Siri Hibbler, head of the Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce, lambasted the closing, saying that the loss of Aldi means that the community is now a complete food desert. 

The lack of grocery stores on the West Side has been a problem for decades. Last spring, a group of West Side nonprofits set out to develop the West Garfield Park Corridors Plan, which, among other things, would develop “strategies to combat food scarcity.”

Over the past couple of years, Aldi has significantly expanded its fast food offerings, while still offering many longer-lasting items at reduced prices. The chain has also been updating its stores. The location in Austin’s Island neighborhood, at 5629 W. Fillmore St., was renovated earlier this year. 

On Aug. 16, Aldi issued a statement, announcing that, because of its “aggressive growth,” it would hire “more than 20,000 new store and warehouse employees” in locations across the country. The chain touted that workers would earn wages of between $15 to $19 an hour, as well as benefits such as “health care and retirement plans, financial wellness and employee assistance programs, and generous paid time off.”

“ALDI cares deeply about its employees, customers and the communities it serves,” the statement read.

Located near Hamlin Avenue, which serves as the West Garfield Park/East Garfield Park border, the Madison Street store attracted customers from both neighborhoods. When the Madison/Pulaski corridor was looted on May 31, 2020, the Aldi survived virtually unscathed thanks to heavy shutters and employees boarding up front doors early in the day, allowing the store to reopen sooner than the neighborhood’s Save-A-Lot.

The sign on the store door read that Aldi “apologizes for any inconvenience” and directed customers to the Austin location; the two locations in West Humboldt Park, at 800 N. Kedzie Ave. and 1140 N. Kostner Ave.; and a location in Cicero at 4630 W. Cermak Rd. In North Lawndale. 

But the closing leaves West Garfield Park residents without many alternatives in their community. The Save-A-Lot location is still open. 

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago operates a WIC Grocery Store at 3932 W. Madison St., which offers fruits and vegetables along with non-perishable items, but it’s primarily for families participating in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. 

“We deserve a grocery store,” Hibbler said. 

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...