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It’s a Breeze to Get to the Dill Pickle Co-op Without a Car

Wall-mounted bike racks and the Blue Line entrance on Spaulding. Photo: John Greenfield

The Dill Pickle Co-Op’s new 10,000-square-foot grocery store, located at 2746 North Milwaukee in Logan Square, is just about the most transit-friendly supermarket in Chicago. The $3.5 million market, which replaces a much-smaller 1,300-square-foot store at 3039 West Fullerton, held its ribbon cutting on September 8 and has been doing brisk business since then, according to spokeswoman Ally Young.

The new co-op is located directly upstairs from the Logan Square Blue Line station’s Spaulding Avenue exit, which makes shopping by train a no-brainer. Note that this exit isn’t bike-friendly, so if you’re traveling with a cycle you should use the main exit at Kedzie Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue and then cruise a block northwest on Milwaukee (the city's busiest biking street) to the market. In addition, the store has a stop for the #56 Milwaukee and #76 Diversey buses right out front.

The market also has some nifty new bike parking, in the form of eight wall-mounted spaces on the Spaulding side of the building. Unlike many vertical bike racks sold for indoor use, each space features a large ring to make it easy to securely lock up a wheel and the frame of your bike with a U-lock. They have another eight wall units that will be installed on the Spaulding side in the near future.

Young says many employees ride to work, so the co-op may add an indoor bike room as part of the impending build-out of the store’s “humungous” basement, which will also include a break room. She adds that the wall-mounted racks aren’t ideal for bike riders with panniers or trailers, and some cyclists have difficulty lifting a bike onto a vertical rack, so they’re looking at options to add more ground-mounted parking fixtures outside of the building.

While the bus stop, plus CTA ventilation grates, on Milwaukee limit options for installing racks on that side, the city will be installing three "inverted U" racks by the north end of the storefront later this year. Grates, plus the need to leave space clear for CTA customers entering and exiting the station, also disqualify much of the curbside space on Spaulding. However, there is some available concrete closer to the alley if more racks are needed in the future.

The Milwaukee side of the building. Photo: John Greenfield
The Milwaukee side of the building. Photo: John Greenfield
The Milwaukee side of the building. Photo: John Greenfield

Right now, like the old store, the new market doesn’t have any off-street car parking spaces. However, store manager Sharon Hoyer says demolition will start in the next week or two to chop off the rear 20 feet of the building to make room for seven parking spots, one of which will be reserved for people with disabilities, plus a receiving area for deliveries.

While this space could have otherwise been used to expand the retail area or "back of the house," and the modification of the building is a significant expense, Hoyer says the co-op’s lender insisted that some car parking be added to serve the new store. "Of course, we're in a really dense urban area, but banks typically want to see about 45 parking spots for a store this size," she adds.

It's also unlikely that the co-op's lender would be happy about the idea of converting nearby on-street parking spots to an on-street bike parking corral or "People Spot" seating area, even though the co-op might otherwise be interested in these options, according to Hoyer. These strategies have worked well at thriving nearby businesses like Revolution Brewing, 2323 North Milwaukee, and Intelligentsia Coffee, 2642 North Milwaukee.

Lenders generally assume that more shoppers arriving in cars equals a larger "basket size" and expenditure per customer, Hoyer says. But she notes that many current co-op shoppers drop by the store on foot or bike a few times a week to buy fresh groceries, so less driving to the store might not actually translate to lower sales.

The current lack of car accommodations doesn’t seem to holding the new store back. “Our opening week was fantastic, and a little bit overwhelming,” Young says. “We’re working to keep products in stock.” That’s a good problem to have.

The Dill Pickle will be having their official, public grand opening party on October 8. Young promises there will be “sweet deals, vendor samples, and a party atmosphere.”

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