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An Amazon Fresh store is planned for Morton Grove’s Sawmill Station shopping center, and will give the village its first full-service grocer since Dominick’s closed more than eight years ago.
An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed in an e-mail to Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune Media Group that the online retail giant plans to open its fifth Chicago-area Fresh grocery store at the shopping center, located at the southeast corner of Dempster Street and Waukegan Road.
It will be the first Amazon Fresh in the northern suburbs. Fresh stores incorporate smart technology, including voice-enabled kiosks featuring the Alexa virtual assistant and smart grocery carts that ring up items you place in them, letting you check out automatically without waiting in line.
Village officials viewed the opening as the latest step in the continuing evolution of the Sawmill Station complex, which is in the process of being developed after the prior Prairie View Plaza on the site was demolished.
“When I first got elected, we set the goal of revamping Sawmill Plaza,” Morton Grove Mayor Dan DiMaria said in an interview. “We did that and we set the bar high… Sawmill Station in general is a culmination of that vision and dream. Amazon Fresh is just another feather in the cap to the whole development because it brings modernization and brings us up to the current times. I’m delighted they are coming to town and I have been waiting to let everyone know that now is the time for Amazon, and here it is.”
The spokeswoman did not offer additional details about the specifics of the store or an opening date, but did add that the store would hire hundreds of people. They are already hiring “zone leads” which carry a variety of tasks for jobs that pay $17 an hour with benefits available.
That pleased village officials.
“It is not just the fact that you get a good grocer in town which everyone needed and wanted, but it is also that it stimulates the local economy and creates jobs,” DiMaria said.
Amazon Fresh stores provide shoppers the option to sign into the Amazon app and place their grocery items in a smart cart, called a Dash Cart. The cart uses sensors to detect the items placed inside and ring them up, eliminating the need for Dash Cart shoppers to wait in a checkout line. Moreover, they can use the virtual assistant known as Alexa to coordinate their shopping lists with what’s in the store, or to help find items inside the store.
Once opened, the Amazon Fresh store would supply Morton Grove with a full service grocery store option. Currently, the village has an Aldi and some small independent grocers. The Amazon store would be located in a newly-constructed building on the same site where a Dominick’s Finer Foods once stood before that chain’s 2013 closure.
“We certainly wanted a grocery store that was unique in providing full service to the community,” Village Administrator Ralph Czerwinski said. “It looks like it will add to what we are looking for to provide the already desirable lifestyle center that has developed at Sawmill Station.”
He noted the business will need to get a business license and a liquor license before it opens.
The Amazon Fresh Store would be the latest shopping option at Sawmill Station where a Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, Kohl’s, Dollar Tree, Aspen Dental, Starbucks and Raising Cane’s have already opened.
Czerwinski added a Ross department store is set to open in early July and a Chipotle Mexican Grill is anticipated to open in late July or early August.
Amazon has Fresh stores in just California, Virginia and Illinois, with one opening soon in Washington, according to Amazon. In Illinois, the first Fresh store opened in Naperville on Dec. 10, 2020, followed by stores in Oak Lawn, Bloomingdale and Schaumburg.
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