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Can Whole Foods Lift Up New Englewood Plaza? Business Owners Have Faith

By Andrea V. Watson | September 13, 2016 5:14am
 The Whole Foods opening at 63rd and Haslted has drawn several small businesses to the new Englewood Square Plaza.
The Whole Foods opening at 63rd and Haslted has drawn several small businesses to the new Englewood Square Plaza.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

ENGLEWOOD — A new Englewood Whole Foods Market has sparked a variety of new small businesses — and more are coming in the next few months.

That's just what developers, the city and neighborhood hoped after the grocer signed on to the project.

Already open are clothiers "Villa, Join the Movement" and "Dress Code: Fashion by the Code."

Nail Works, Oak Street Health, Chipotle and Starbucks also will be in the new Englewood Square plaza at 63rd and Halsted streets. Officials broke ground on the development in 2014, and its first store opened this summer.

Whole Foods is scheduled to open Sept. 28 at 832 W. 63rd St.

Business owners Monday said they were drawn to the location because of Whole Foods, which they believe will attract potential customers for them.

Taleb Hassan, store manager for "Dress Code," which sells men's and women's clothes and accessories and opened Friday, said he's excited to be in Englewood and plans to hire from the community.

"I want to create jobs," he said.

Right now there are two employees, but over time there will be more openings, especially during the holidays, he said.

"I have faith in Whole Foods, and I know [foot] traffic will pick up," he said.

Dress Code has six Chicago locations.

Nail shop owner Tim Tho is returning to Englewood. He operated his business 20 years ago near Kennedy-King College. He said he's excited to be back.

"We're bringing the Downtown atmosphere to the South Side," he said.

"We're not just here to put something on the corner, but we're here to treat everyone with respect and to give the best service," Tho said.

This nail shop won't have televisions, Tho said. Instead, customers can listen to music and relax.

"No Jerry Springer here," Tho said. "I just want people to enjoy themselves."

A U.S. veteran who served in Desert Storm and in Somalia, Tho said he would like to work with local officials to host community events and mentor young people.

RELATED: 63rd and Halsted Once Was A Bustling Shopping Spot

Greg Smith, manager of Villa, which touts its "urban-inspired apparel and footwear products," already has been huddling with Tho to think of ways to help families during the holiday season. One idea is a turkey drive.

The store has been open since June, though it wasn't getting a lot of traffic at first, he said. But there's been more traffic as Whole Foods nears its opening, he said. The store sells athletic shoes, graphic tees, jerseys and jeans for men, women and children. The store has eight employees, about half of them from the community. 

"We have sales often, and people can always find a good deal here," he said.

This is where Chipotle and Starbucks will be in the Englewood Square plaza.

Workers could be seen inside Whole Foods Monday, preparing for its end of the month opening.

Across the parking lot is Chipotle and Starbucks. No signs have been put up, but most of the exteriors look nearly done. Trees and bushes are planted, and the ground is paved.

Englewood resident Jasmine Brown, who did some shopping at Villa, said it's nice to see more stores in the community. She said she'll probably shop at Whole Foods when it opens, but worried that prices will be too high.

A Whole Foods representative said last year that the store will offer its 365 value line of products to keep prices down at the Englewood location.

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