South Side Rallies Against ALDI's Decision To Leave
Residents of Peoria's south side are hungry for change, but not the kind ALDI is currently offering.
A protest was held Saturday morning outside of the grocer's Western Ave. location, which is closing in less than a week. ALDI's decision to shut the doors sparked outrage from the community, since the closing means the poorest part of town will no longer have a full-service grocery store.
Even snow and frigid temperatures didn't stop dozens of residents from voicing their disappointment with ALDI.
"We've got so many people out here today. That shows that they are invested in their community, and they want to see a change," said First District City Councilwoman Denise Moore.
She says there's another wrinkle in this issue. Moore learned earlier Saturday morning that the ALDI store serving a poor area of Pekin is also shutting down.
"The fact that ALDI is closing the store that is most closely adjacent the low-income area there, as they are doing here, to move to greener pastures suggests that, perhaps, having a moral conscience is not what they do," said Moore.
Many people at the protest recognized that they were probably not going to change ALDI's mind. But some said that the rally was aimed more at getting a conversation going.
"The end game, I think, is to just get the community to get tighter together around an issue. Then solve it with their own skills and their own abilities," said Zack Teague, who doesn't live on the south side, but joined the rally in support of the cause.
There are several ideas floating around as to what can be done to fill the void created by ALDI's departure. Some suggest urban farming, some say the neighborhood should buy into a community grocery store, and others say the city needs to step-in and entice a company to set up shop on the south side.
Councilwoman Moore says researchers at Bradley University are helping to find a suitable replacement.
"It has to be sustainable, though. It can't just come in for a couple of years and then fold up," Moore said.
ALDI division vice president Heather Moore writes in a statement given to 1470 & 100.3 WMBD, "We take the closing of any ALDI store very seriously. In this case, we made a business decision to build a store that will offer an expanded variety of fresh foods to more customers in the area. We understand the concerns raised by our Western customers and appreciate their support over the past 25 years."
The Western Ave. store, and the S. Main St. location in East Peoria, close on Thursday. A larger store at 251 Clock Tower Drive in East Peoria opens the following day.