Bench on south side of Chicago Avenue Jewel-Osco.Photo by Peggy Tarr

Several months ago, I was surprised to run into a Streetwise magazine vendor in downtown Evanston rather than in front of the Jewel-Osco store on Chicago Avenue.  The vendor told me that the new Jewel management banned the vendors from selling there.  On my next trip to that Jewel, I spoke to the manager about the ban.  The manager told me that Jewel stores were under new ownership, and vendors of any type would no longer be permitted, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  I let the manager know that I did not agree with this new policy and decided to call the Streetwise office when I got home to let them know what was going on.  I doubt that just my call did it, but the Streetwise vendors returned to this particular Jewel store.  They stood on the sidewalk just outside the Jewel fence.

But the new Jewel ownership / management story doesn’t end here.  For the past few weeks I have asked Jewel management (various persons of managerial status) several times to return the bench to the enclosed area immediately outside the entrance and exit doors.  Management had the bench moved to the side of the Jewel building far away from the entrance where there is no protection from the sun or bad weather.  When the bench was in the enclosed area, seniors and others could sit down and rest after shopping or walking to the store or waiting for a cab without being exposed to the whims of Mother Nature.  Jewel management told me that they moved the bench because beggars sat on the bench and harassed customers entering and exiting the store.  I said management could call the police. 

I pleaded with Jewel management to put the bench back because I had talked with seniors who said they needed the bench where it had been.  No dice.  Management refused to return the bench but told me that the bench would at least be moved closer to the propane tanks (located outside but closer to the entrance).  I smart-alecky asked, “So…(are) you planning to blow the seniors up?”  The manager answered, “No, we’re not planning to blow up seniors.”  I was somewhat shocked at the seriousness of his response.

I decided to take pictures of where the bench was now and the enclosed area.  When I explained to a senior exiting the store why I was taking the pictures, she expressed her gratitude and best wishes for my success in getting the bench moved back.

I try to limit my shopping at Jewel now.  In my opinion, Jewel’s lack of concern for seniors is a benchmark* for the attitude of the new Jewel owners.  Sadly, our country’s lack of concern for seniors seems to be rampant.  Another benchmark.  SIGH. 

*A standard by which something can be judged.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...