By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
South Shore community members questioned Ald. Leslie Hairston and Eva Jakubowsky, owner of Shop & Save, about the new 62,000-square-foot grocery store that is coming to Jeffrey Plaza, 2101 E. 71st St.
On the evening of March 14, Hairston joined constituents from South Shore in the auditorium of O’Keeffe School, 6940 S. Merrill Ave., so they could hear from the owners of Shop & Save and give their input on what the store should look like.
Jakubowsky said she was excited about opening the new store, especially after many months of trying to buy the location from an independent owner.
“Ald. Hairston has worked on this project for five years, we’ve only worked on it for 14 months,” Jakubowsky said. “There was an independent owner who had the property previously. We’ve been trying to get this location (the plaza) for well over two years.”
Jakubowsky closed on purchasing Jeffrey Plaza in February and has begun construction on the store’s interior. Jakubowsky expects the store to be open in the fall of this year. However, she could not give an official date.
During the meeting, Jakubowsky promised to bring fresh produce, fresh meat, deli, premade food to the store and have items in the store that fit the community’s needs by hosting local vendors.
“Each one of our stores is in a different community. Each one of our stores sells slightly different products,” Jakubowsky explained to the crowd. “It’s not the job of the community to buy what we offer, it’s our job to bring to the community what they would like to buy.”
Jakubowsky also promised to have jobs for South Shore residents at the store. “Generally, our employees come from a very small area, a couple of mile radius, from the store. If you don’t have to drive from half an hour to 45 minutes, it definitely benefits you and it benefits us. If we’re convenient for employees to get to our stores, we’re able to retain our employees and grow together.”
Since Jakubowsky owns the entire plaza, once she opens the grocery store, she hopes to find tenants that will work well with the center. She would like to make the plaza a community hub that will serve all of the community’s needs.