North Lawndale gets taste of super supermarket


A clean bus bearing the EATS logo roams the streets of North Lawndale, picking up shoppers and ferrying them to a kind of supermarket the neighborhood has never seen, that no Chicago neighborhood has ever seen.

The shoppers step off the bus and into a friendly, bright store. No bulletproof glass, no conspicuous surveillance cameras, no burglar bars, none of the familiar paraphernalia that in other stores makes shoppers feel like thieves.

Everything about this store is different. Instead of aisles of groceries, the shoppers are greeted by touch-screen kiosks and cheerful shopping assistants who show them how to order with their fingers.

You want bananas? Touch here. Green or ripe? Touch here.

Many of the shoppers — single mothers, grandmothers — come with kids, and while the adults work the kiosk, the kids are escorted to the kid zone to play and eat healthy treats.

Meanwhile, in the back, the cold, giant warehouse is bustling. Workers, many of them ex-felons who before this store arrived couldn’t find a job, line up along a conveyor belt, loading the orders into grocery totes. They’re all wearing gloves, ensuring that the fruits and vegetables, unlike most supermarket produce, haven’t been squeezed and poked countless times by whoknowswho with Godknowswhat on their hands.

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