CHICAGO (CBS) — Even as retailers in Illinois face new capacity limits in the state’s latest effort to curb the resurgent pandemic, there’s a good feeling in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood this morning, as the Walmart on 83rd Street reopens for business.
People lined up outside the Chatham Walmart more than two hours before the doors opened Friday morning, so this is clearly a huge deal for the community.
In May, the store was set on fire during widespread civil unrest in Chicago, and during the months of rebuilding, people in Chatham have gone out of their way to get some things they need. In a pandemic, it’s been tough, but that’s coming to an end.
The rebuilt Walmart Supercenter now features a health center, with doctors and nurses ready to serve the community. Walmart has said the health center will offer medical appointments for physicals, wellness checks, and other primary care services; eye exams, and contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions; dental services; counseling services; X-ray imaging; diagnostic lab tests; hearing services; and fitness and nutrition classes.
“It’s important, because sometimes you can’t get in to see your doctor. So, if I can get in here to see a doctor as a convivence, it’s good for me. It’s good for everybody,” shopper London Robinson said.
The reopening also means many Chatham residents can get basic necessities at store closer to home.
“It was good, because it’s convenient, and in this day and age when you don’t want to be out too long, you want convenience. So if you can get to a store in and out, that’s great,” shopper Shataysha Hickman said.
“It’s very important. Walmart is a staple in our community,” Robinson said.
This summer, looting at the store led to $3 million in stolen and damaged merchandise, as well as extensive fire and water damage, forcing the Walmart on 83rd street to close for repairs, causing a major inconvenience for Chatham residents, because other big box stores have left the area.
“Basically, this Walmart is only like 10 minutes away from my house. Because this was closed, I had to drive way to 95th and Western, and that’s more than like 30 minutes away from where I live,” Hickman said.
“It’s hard to get Scott tissue, paper towels. It’s just hard. It’s very, very hard. So I’m appreciative that it’s opening back up,” Robinson said.
Friday’s re-opening comes with some other positive changes. Before the unrest, the store employed 485 people. Now, with the added health center, Walmart says it’s adding 750 new jobs.
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