Yellow Banana is a Black-owned grocery with 38 stores under the Save-A-Lot name. Its stores can be found across some major U.S. cities, including Milwaukee and Cleveland. The company recently received $13.5 million in city subsidies from Chicago’s City Council’s Finance Committee to buy and revitalize six run-down Save-A-Lot grocery stores, Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Yellow Banana was co-founded by three entrepreneurs in 2021. They are Ademola Adewale-Sadik, Michael Nance and Walker Brumskine with a vision to combat food insecurity across America. The mission “is to deliver essential nutrition to working families at affordable prices.”
They met while earning JDs from Yale Law School; Adewale-Sadik and Brumskine also earned MBAs from Harvard Business School. They were joined by the seasoned operator and 127 Wall co-founder Joseph Canfield. Two of the company’s co-founders are Black and a third is both Black and Latino.
Chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus Ald. Jason Ervin told The Chicago Sun-Times that the current stores need renovation as well as repair of relationship with the community.
“The city is putting a significant investment out here, but at the same time we want to make sure that people will actually utilize this. And that may be something that may hold people up from doing it,” he said.
According to him, “the city is putting a significant investment out here, but at the same time, we want to make sure that people will actually utilize this. And that may be something that may hold people up from doing it. There will be some challenges just based on the name and based on what happened in the community in the past.”
One of the partners of Yellow Banana, Michael Nance, said he and his partners have given “tremendous thought” to the rebranding question raised by Ervin.
“We fully appreciate the reputational damage that Save A Lot has done in the city of Chicago by shutting down stores, such as the store that we seek to reopen at 79th and Halsted. … We understand that it’s unacceptable to unilaterally make these kinds of decisions without including the community’s voices,” Nance told the finance committee.
“One of the things that we’re considering in terms of branding is actually doing a mural on the side of that building that embraces the culture of that community. So we would pay out of our dollars to hire a local artist to help brand that store in a way that community respects and feels dignifies their voices,” he added.