Austin's Walmart, Walgreens still closed from looting

Company representatives could not definitively say when the chain stores will reopen

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

Two weeks after several West Side shopping strips were looted, the stores are slowly opening up, but for national chains that have more resources than smaller businesses, the progress hasn't been the same across the board.

The Walmart Supercenter at 4650 W. North Ave., in Austin remains closed and it is not clear when it might reopen.

While many West Side Walgreens locations reopened last week, two Austin locations — at 4748 W. North Ave. and at 1546 N. Central Ave. — remain closed and it's not clear when they will reopen. A spokesperson for the pharmacy said customers who need to pick up prescriptions will be able to pick them up at open locations nearby or have them delivered to their homes.

The Food 4 Less grocery store at the Washington Square shopping plaza, 4821 W. North Ave., reopened last week while Save A-Lot discount supermarket chains at 5555 W. North Ave. in Austin and 420 S. Pulaski Rd. in West Garfield Park reopened days after the looting that started May 31.

The Aldi at 3835 W. Madison St. in West Garfield was not looted and reopened last week. WBEZ reported that the Aldi didn't get looted, because the staff closed it early and the shutters protected the store. The neighborhood Save-a-Lot did get ransacked, but it reopened a few days later with partially restocked shelves.

On June 4, Austin photographer and community activist Vanessa Stokes pointed out that, with all the grocery store and pharmacy closures, residents simply don't have any alternatives.

"We didn't have those things to begin with and now, it's even more so," she said. "The little bit we had, was, like, a lot. So it's huge."

In an e-mailed response to Austin Weekly News, Walmart spokesperson Ann Hatfield indicated that it was too early to talk about when the Austin Walmart might reopen.

"As you likely know, there is significant damage to our Austin store," she wrote. "We are still assessing the total damage to Austin and all of our Chicago stores."

Hatfield noted that, as of June 11, the only Chicago store that was open was the Pullman Walmart Supercenter on the Far South Side. That store was not looted.

"While we cannot address timing for re-opening of individual locations, we are working to reopen stores as quickly as possible," said Alexandra Brown, a spokesperson for Walgreens.

Brown also outlined several steps the chain has been taking to ensure their customers can still get their prescriptions.

The pharmacy staff has been "proactively" reaching out to customers to let them know the locations of other Walgreens pharmacies where they can get their prescriptions. Any calls to the closed locations are automatically redirected to nearby stores and customers can also chat with pharmacists online using the Pharmacy Chat feature. Walgreens continues to offer free prescription delivery and the chain is working with vulnerable customers, Brown said.

"Walgreens pharmacists are also contacting those who require high touch care, such as senior patients and those with chronic or complex conditions, to provide individualized support and solutions for their medication and health care needs," Brown said.

For the most up-to-date information on which Walgreens are currently open, visit the company's store locator at walgreens.com.

Contact:
Email: igorst3@hotmail.com

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