- Yellow Banana, the owner and operator of eight Save A Lot locations in the Chicagoland area, announced Monday it has received a $26.5 million investment to put toward six of its grocery stores on the South and West sides of Chicago.
- Yellow Banana said it would make “comprehensive” upgrades to five of its existing stores in the city in addition to reopening a store at 7908 S. Halsted in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood that closed in 2020.
- Yellow Banana said the new investment furthers the company’s “ongoing commitment to underserved communities” throughout not just Chicago, but also across the U.S.
The new investment is a mix of a $13.5 million grant from Chicago previously awarded to Yellow Banana in July 2022 along with New Markets Tax Credits, third-party financing and funding from Yellow Banana.
Yellow Banana said it would use the investment for a comprehensive internal and external redevelopment at each of the locations slated for the upgrades. The remodels, which will start this spring, will include new flooring, lighting, equipment, HVAC, dairy and meat cases, interior and exterior paint, decor, fixtures and signage.
Yellow Banana expects to have the work finished over the next 12 months, and also plans to reopen the store in Auburn Gresham during that period.
Yellow Banana, which runs 38 stores under the Save A Lot banner in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Dallas and Jacksonville, Florida, said it aims to be the “partner of choice for municipalities working to find solutions to food insecurity across the U.S.”
“Where people grow up or live should not determine their access to healthy, affordable food options,” Yellow Banana co-founder Michael Nance said in a statement. “We look forward to providing residents on Chicago’s South and West Sides with a repositioned, quality grocery experience, and we are eager to engage with them as we determine the appropriate offerings for these locations. We understand that local engagement and collaboration will make these stores a success.”
In making the announcement, Yellow Banana noted that it is investing in communities at a time when Walmart has recently closed four of its stores on Chicago’s South and West Sides.
Walmart said that it tried various strategies to improve the stores’ performance, but decided to close them because they were unprofitable, noting that “these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years.”
Yellow Banana’s investment in underserved communities comes at a time when those communities have struggled to gain access to higher-end grocery options amid a prevalence of discounters.
Earlier this month, residents on Chicago's South Side protested the arrival of Yellow Banana at the Englewood Square retail development in the spot formerly occupied by Whole Foods Market, NBC Chicago reported.
A recent Brookings Institution report found a grocery gap in Black-majority communities, noting those tend to see a prevalence of dollar stores and a shortage of premium grocery stores as part of a wider problem of devaluation locally.