Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Tale Of Two Grocers

Compare and contrast the Dearborn Wholesale parking lot and Jewel, right across the street from one another on Montrose near Broadway.

At 3 a.m., the only illumination on the Dearborn Wholesale side comes from alley lights. There's not a single watt of on-site lighting, there's no lighting on or inside the store except for one light bulb, and several homeless have set up quarters in the building's doorway. It continues to confound us that Dearborn Wholesale has no iron fencing surrounding its property, as required by Chicago ordinance and Mayor Daley. The low guardrail has made it a popular hangout for the homeless at all hours, and a commenter tells us there a drug overdose in the parking lot on recent afternoon, with Ald. Shiller making an appearance to see what was going on.

By contrast, Jewel has plenty of lighting in its parking lot and is surrounded by the requisite iron fencing. We haven't seen any homeless there after hours, and there's a security guard in the lot when the store is open. The stores' signs and display windows are brightly lit.

In the past, readers have commented that Dearborn Wholesale has good and concerned owners. But there's "talking the talk" ... and then there's "walking the walk." These pictures show no fencing and no lighting at night. In our opinion, saying the loitering problem is the fault of the adjacent building isn't a good response to community concerns.

Which side of the street would you feel safer walking past after dark? Which owner appears to care more about the community? Why doesn't Dearborn Wholesale put up a fence and some lighting as a good-faith gesture to demonstrate that it is, indeed, a good and concerned neighbor?


  1. Jewel has plenty of lighting??? The lighting in Jewel's parking lot is very dim which one reason I avoid this Jewel alltogether. The other reason is their produce is usually rotten.

    I agree Dearborn needs to be lit up, but this Jewel is not a good comparison.

  2. You mean that Dearborn place is still in business? I always thought it was a closed grocery store that somehow couldn't compete with Jewel.

    I never see ANYONE buying anything from there or even in the parking lot, except for homeless people and crackheads.

  3. Excellent post, UU! Thanks for keeping the expectations high for businesses (and residents) of our neighborhood.

  4. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

    Dearborn does a good amount of business. All wholesale though so the number of vehicles in their lot is typically outnumbered by the number of drunks sitting on their guardrail.

  5. Unfortunately, no matter how much lighting Jewel has in the parking lot, it still lacks in the amount of security necessary to keep it safe.

    I was in there last week when a very drunk homeless man approached me as I was buying groceries and asked me to buy him a bottle of booze, I refused and he proceeded to threaten me and loiter around the counter while I was checking out. The girl checking me out asked him if he was going to buy anything, he said he was waiting for me, she called security. Unfortunately, after 5 minutes and several failed attempts at calling security (and while the man attempted to grab my shopping cart and walk away with it while I was checking out), she finally had to leave her register to walk me to an undercover security person by the Jewel exit. It was a rather unsettling experience for me and my check-out lady (who was extremely helpful and professional)...maybe Jewel should invest some extra money in hiring additional security people or at the very least, better training for the one's they have. The undercover security man was also very professional and courteous and happily walked me to my car, making me feel a little bit safer, but there is no reason I and my check-out person should have had to walk to him after she repeatedly paged for security over the intercom.

  6. I was driving past Dearborn this morning, and the Usual Suspects were hanging out on the guard rail (while their bedding and grocery cart blocked the sidewalk) and the especially crazy lady (who often wears different hats) waived at a police officer in his squad car in front of me. What did the police office do? He waived back, and kept driving......

  7. Which side do I feel safer walking down after dark? Neither one, if I can help it. But I don't even walk down the the north side of the street during the DAY.

  8. This morning the Dearborn crazies had some sort of VHS tape art installation built. Had to be a hundred VHS tapes, I have no idea where they got them.

  9. Dearborn probably doesn't have much lighting in the parking lot because it closes every day at 5pm.

  10. Sooneratkent,

    While you experience does sound less than appealing, I don't know that I agree with the direction of your blame for the problem...

    I don't know that we can place the blame on Jewel. Do businesses really need an army of security guards to operate and keep their employees and customers safe? Blame the city, police, alderman, etc. for not providing a safe place to live, shop, operate a business and work. Don't blame Jewel. I applaud them for having securty (both uniformed and undercover) - but the fact that they need to employ them shows the state the neighborhood is in. AND a reason why smaller businesses, that probably cant afford guards, cameras, barbed wire fences, missle defense systems, etc. do not move in.

  11. If the Dearborn owners are not providing the fencing and lights required by City of Chicago Building Codes then they are breaking the law. Period.

    Here is a link to report these incidents, which stresses that they are not issues one calls into the 311 service.

    Building Code Violations

  12. CFD and CPD constantly in Dearborn food parking lot. If you want a safe late night alternative try Dominicks Foster/Sheridan, usually only one pan handler in parking lot vs. half dozen @Jewel (and security will immediately remove them.

  13. Wow. Talk about beating a dead horse. There were several postings about Dearborn earlier this year. The owners have to be aware that many homeless people are living on their property during non busiess hours. They obviously don't care. For some reason, they are able to skate the fencing law. As far as Jewel goes, It's a nice store considering where it is. I agree that the lighting at Jewel is actually very dim. They need to upgrade their light fixtures. They are ancient. As far as security there, please. One woman usually who spends most of her time standing around chatting or just sitting in the store by the door. Hardly an intimidating figure.

  14. That Jewel is a pit, and I never walk on the Dearborn side even in daylight.

  15. I would like to know what can be done about the loitering in that parking lot/alley day and night I have watched an incredible amount of public defecation over the years, not to mention continual lewd comments directd toward any woman walking within earshot. It is no wonder that people feel awkward walking in that area. I just don't know who to call, since the Alderwoman clearly doesn't care.

  16. Your talking about my little crack head friend! I saw her pissing one day, in between two cars. Frightening.

    She usually blocks me from leaving Jewel calling me a "Fine white piece of ass"

    Last week a guy OD'd in the parking lot. I am not sure why the cops let them hang there, but then again where are they going to go? Seems to me they wait to the methadone clinics to open.

    I did see there booming VHS business. Budding George Lucas's they are.

    They were missing for a week this summer and I was starting to worry. I think I have Stockholm syndrome.

  17. UPSBoy, I think the reference is to the side of the street where "Dearborn Wholesale" grocers is located.

    "The Jewel side." "The Dearborn side."

    I'm pretty sure we all know Dearborn street isn't in Uptown.

  18. Slapping Myself in the head. Thanks Trumansquarenabor.. I figured that out about 30 seconds after I posted it. It's late .. brain drain. I drove by there around 8:00 in the morning Tuesday and I saw the usual crowd had toys and VHS tapes laid out on the sidewalk by the guardrail.I guess they qualify as small business owners now.

    Chip.... I'm very familiar with the female you are referring to. She is probably the worst when it comes to bothering people and is constantly shreeking in the street or yelling at folks in the Jewel parking lot. Great for business. I rarely walk to Jewel. Bike or drive. I almost tripped over a woman spralled across the sidewalk at Hazel and Montrose as she laid there chatting with a male friend. She made no effort to shift off the sidewalk as people tried to walk around her. It amazes me what passes for 'okay' in Uptown as opposed to other neighborhoods.


    One can also easily send an (anonymous) email to Dearborn Wholesale Grocers L.P. by visiting this link.

    Let them know they are not helping their business or showing respect for the neighborhood by allowing these unsafe and possibly criminal conditions to exist! Go to the source!

  20. Thanks Andy!

    I just sent an email to them. I'm interested to see if they respond at all. I'm going to make it my weekly Friday duty to email them. Of course if we had an alderman worth two cents we could ask for assistance but that would truly exemplify "beating a dead horse".

  21. Dearborn mess...
    I own a condo 2 blocks east away. I am ona high floor and see the lot all the time. It has street people all the time hanging out. At night they are drinking and doing drugs..I have walked by it and been bothered by groups of people who hang out there for money. At night they sleep in the stores doorway and along the back of the lot. It is unsafe and unhealthy.I have called the store and they said they could not do anything. I said they could by calling the police. It is thier lot and private property. They refuse to call them. I called the corporate office and they said they know of the problems but cannot do anything. They said the west end is jakes snack shop. I went and talked to them and they said they are not telling the truth. The whole lot is theres. I feel sosmething should be done. It looks bad and it is a hangout for the drunks and drug people. I asked our alderman and she said its private property and has no control over what happen there. I figured she would say that. I told her it her fault too as she like this people to hang out in this area and her ward....I hope something is done soon and cannot wait for the winter so the cold will do something to celan out that dearborn lot....

  22. Well it seems the more people that frequent these places and say something to the management or even higher up,the more we may see change.I do have to say that I am getting quite put off as are a number of people I know at seeing the constant phrases like"crackheads","cockroaches",I work on a daily basis with our transient population,and the majority of them are dealing with mental issues,and the population of them that is dealing with addiction, they need help.I am sure that I will be attacked for defending what makes up a huge part of our uptown,but where would you have them go,what would you have done,with these unsightly,eyesores I shudder to think!!!
    peace,by any means necessary!!!!!!

  23. Well TNT, it's my experience that the people that are 'camped out' at the Dearborn lot, are either overtly aggressive, glassy-eyed and generally drugged-up, and some are prone to using the lot as a toilet (about 10 feet away from rush hour traffic and women with baby strollers)
    Whatever name is attached to these people, doesn't really matter. They are a menace, and what they're doing is usually against the law.
    I for one, will continue to call the police.

  24. Ms. Trott, maybe you're fed up with seeing the phrases "crackheads" and "menaces," but that is exactly what these people are.

    I, for one, am fed up (1) with being threatened by the transient population when I try to walk around my neighborhood, and (2) with being told I'm wrong to feel that way.

    Someone from JPUSA posted on a blog that people in Uptown were "selfish" because they want a safe neighborhood. Well, count me as "selfish" if that's the definition.

    Honey, the people in Uptown who work for change and expect a safe and clean neighborhood are not the problem. You, as a worker with the transient population, certainly must see that. You're trying to help people change their lives. I, and many readers of this blog, are trying to help this neighborhood turn into a healthy and safe one. We're ALL trying to change things.

    Coddling the people who break the laws and whose behavior shouldn't be tolerated -- for the good of the neighborhood AND for their own good (remember the guy who OD'd in the parking lot last week?) -- doesn't do anyone a bit of good.

  25. "I work on a daily basis with our transient population,and the majority of them are dealing with mental issues,and the population of them that is dealing with addiction, they need help.I am sure that I will be attacked for defending what makes up a huge part of our uptown,but where would you have them go,what would you have done,with these unsightly,eyesores I shudder to think!!!" Ms. Trott

    Agree completely. They need help.

    We disagree on the solution. I don't believe it's ever appropriate to enable the homeless to remain homeless. I think it's cruel to do so. You, however, seem to think that enabling their behavior is kind. Let's just agree to disagree on that, but I like to call it for what it really is. Blanketing your position with lies that say people like me hate the poor ain't working anymore.

    There's this running mantra from COURAJ, JPUSA, ONE, Catholic Workers, and Helen herself who all claim that UU readers hate the poor. Have you noticed that it's hard to defend your position? Well, it's hard because your position is built on lies and it's always easy to debate a lie.

    We've done the reasoned debate thing that shot holes through your arguments about what really helps the poor. The fact is that you really don't care and you don't mind spreading lies about us in the process. You are more focused on your own agenda so all reasoning be damned. Live a lie if you want, but I'm not going to pretend you're compassionate when you're really enabling and judgmental.

  26. and lets not forget the sidewalk sale that's being held everyday in front of the Dearborn Parking lot, hosted by your fellow Ward residents...