By Bob Bong
Oak Lawn welcomed a new business to town last week that has taken America by storm over the past decade.
Amazon opened one of its new Amazon Fresh stores last Wednesday at the site of a former Kmart at 4031 W. 95th St.
Mayor Sandra Bury, for one, was impressed.
“The Village of Oak Lawn is thrilled to welcome Amazon Fresh as the main anchor at the newly redeveloped Oak Lawn Commons,” she said. “The store brings hundreds of much needed jobs, high-quality food, low prices and innovative convenience features. We are excited for the energy and excitement it will bring to this gateway into Oak Lawn.”
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It employs more than 500 people; most are full-timers with benefits and they get a minimum of $15 per hour.”
She said the store is a technological marvel.
“They have Dash Carts,” she said. “They keep track of your purchases and all you have to do is sign in to your Amazon account to pay. You don’t even check out.”
She said the store has key value items such as bananas for 15 cents and meat, produce and seafood departments.
“I have not seen seafood like that in other area grocery stores,” she said.
Seattle-based Amazon announced last year it was planning on opening the new concept grocery store at select locations, including four in Illinois.
The Oak Lawn store is the third Amazon Fresh store in Illinois. The first Illinois location opened in Naperville in December and a second store opened in January in Schaumburg. A fourth store is under construction in Bloomingdale.
The store is about 35,000 square feet and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the first hour is reserved for customers who are 60 or older and the disabled.
Bury said the store also serves as a pickup center for Amazon orders as well as a drop-off center for returns. They also have a same-day delivery and pickup service for Amazon Prime members.
Amazon said the store donates surplus food to local food banks and “to date we have already donated over 20,000 pounds of food (equivalent to nearly 20,000 meals) from the Oak Lawn store.”
Bury said the Amazon store is just the beginning for that new development at that site that also featured a Chuck E. Cheese location.
“We are still looking for more development there,” she said. “It’s being developed by the Hubbard Street Group and they have been very innovative.”
One of their innovations was to replace the old asphalt parking lot with one made of permeable pavement. Water soaks into the pavement and doesn’t pool on the surface.
She said Amazon was just one of many new developments on the way for the center of town.
“We have a Dunkin’ ready to go, Pete’s Fresh Market has demolished the old Freshline Foods store at 5355 W. 95th St. They also purchased an apartment building and house to expand their footprint, and OSF is about ready to have a ribbon cutting at their new urgent care center.
“We are super excited about what is coming,” she said. “We will continue to bring in stores that people what to shop at.”