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Mariano's Store Poised to Take a Chunk of Libertyville's Tax Base

Village plans a media blitz that includes education about village boundaries while searching out other sources for tax income.

The Jewel – Osco Store on South Milwaukee Avenue and village officials may be fighting an uphill battle to keep shoppers, and hence their tax base, in Libertyville after Mariano’s grocery store opens in late June.

Mariano’s, which is owned by Roundy’s, is in the Vernon Hills village limits and is expected to take a bite out of Libertyville’s tax base. But how big of a bite remains to be seen and village administrators don’t have exact numbers. They are also discussing solutions to keep their tax base at its current level even if sales at the Jewel-Osco are weakened. 

The Jewel-Osco store is on a state list of the village’s top 20 tax-earning entities. When tax dollars are paid to the village, a lump sum arrives. Village administrators don’t know the position of the Jewel-Osco store on the list, or how much of their tax base can be credited to the store.

But the Economic Development Commission and village administrators plan a media blitz they hope will keep business steady at the Jewel-Osco. EDC members and village staff are working to find the best ways to educate people about the importance of keeping tax dollars in the village.

Boundaries between the villages of Libertyville and Vernon Hills are the biggest problem, say EDC members. Member Steve Martin said he has spoken to more than 20 people in the last month, asking them if they know the location of the southern boundaries of the village. “Many people think the train tracks are the boundary,” he said. “Not one of them knew the correct boundary.”

Residents may find a letter or a map in their next water bill. This information is expected to include an outline of Libertyville’s village limits. The village’s website will be updated with the information, also. The information was not put together in time for the village’s last quarterly newsletter, said Director of Community Development John Spoden, but anyone who receives the village’s email blast will get the information.

On the opening day of Mariano’s, Mayor Terry Weppler is expected to spend half of his day at Sunset Foods and at the Jewel-Osco, thanking customers for shopping at their local grocery store.

Heather Rowe, Economic Development Coordinator for the village suggested that Sunset Foods and the Jewel-Osco store reach out to the baseball teams and other groups they have supported in the past and ask for their continued support.

Media Blitz May Not Help

Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s are comparable shopping experiences. Both offer store brand items, some specialty items, and customer service.

Karen May, External Communications Manager for Jewel-Osco said that in addition to the traditional departments such as the Chef’s Kitchen deli, bake shop and pharmacy, the Libertyville Jewel-Osco offers their new nutrition iQ program and customers can ask at the service desk for a list of gluten-free products. 

Mariano’s website touts a “shopping environment filled with amenities like an Italian coffee shop serving authentic gelato, a wood-fired pizza oven, and sit down sushi bar; not to mention a full-service pharmacy.”

Patch readers seem eager to try the new store, despite what it might do to the village of Libertyville’s tax base.  Many are simply looking out for their own wallet. In response to the previous article on Patch about the opening of Mariano’s, reader Sgrjsg wrote, “Do you really think people care where the "boundaries" are?…Customers will always shop where they can get the best product, service and price offerings!”

Other readers responded with negative feelings about shopping at Jewel-Osco. Many questioned why they should shop at a store in Libertyville when they feel they can get better food at lower prices a few more yards down the road.  

“I'm happy there will be an alternative to Jewel at the southern end of town. Jewel's produce and meat are below par,’ Elizabeth commented.

Another reader, Fred, said he welcomes another grocery store because we live in a free enterprise system. He believes Jewel’s prices would remain competitive.

Patch reader Sue said village residents should shop in their local store to keep tax dollars coming in to their home towns but wants help from village administrators. “If Libertyville loses tax revenue because people shop in Vernon Hills, then the  residents of Libertyville can expect to see their quality of life deteriorate. I choose to shop in Libertyville every chance I get. That said, the mayor and trustees of  Libertyville should be working harder to get us the stores we need to avoid having to travel elsewhere for our shopping needs,” she wrote.

EDC Searches for Other Sources

At the May 18 meeting, members of the EDC discussed other ways to save the village’s tax base instead of concentrating on the Jewel.

Before the meeting, EDC chairman John Cortesi said the village has received new tax dollars from the plaza near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and East Park Avenue. That plaza is home to a few restaurants, including Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle and a dry cleaners but still has some vacancies.

During the meeting, Cortesi questioned how much of the Jewel– Osco store’s business comes from Vernon Hills residents who won’t drive to Mariano’s. “There is a lot of density on the west side,” he said.

Jeff Lovinger, a representative from MainStreet Libertyville, a nonprofit group dedicated to developing the downtown area, attended the meeting. He said the Westfield mall is beginning to lose stores and has been losing foot traffic for many years. He cited Roland’s Jewelers as an example, saying it moved from its mall location to downtown Libertyville.  He said EDC members should speak to owners of the smaller stores in the mall and offer Libertyville as a viable alternative.  

EDC members also discussed putting in signs at the village’s borders to remind people where they are shopping. Currently, banners proclaiming, "Shop Libertyville" hang from streetlights in the village, and they mark the southern boundary of the village along Route 21: at the southern end of Red Top Plaza on the east side, and just north of Gregg's Parkway on the west side.  

Cortesi said they would continue discussing the media blitz and their business retention program at their next meeting in June. 

Correction: In a previous version, we stated that the village has not received tax revenue from the plaza near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and East Park Avenue. The article has been corrected to reflect that the village has already received tax revenue from the plaza.

Keith P. Buehler May 20, 2011 at 01:55 PM
I do feel strongly about shopping local and have patronized the Jewel-Osco for years. However, I feel that the store has enjoyed a near-monopoly for an extremely long time and the competition can only be healthy. Tell you what, Jewel Osco...I'll keep spending my 100+ bucks a week at your store and watch for more competitive pricing in all brand areas, shorter lines at the checkout, and the store not being completely rearranged every other week. I'll give it 6 months. Does that sound fair? BTW, the comment by management a few weeks ago about possibly adding gas was completely ridiculous...the parking is abysmal as it is!
Ann Payne May 20, 2011 at 02:53 PM
If Marianos sells the products that Jewel suddenly stopped carrying I'll shop at Marianos ALSO. I think that, being a new store, the prices will start off inexpensive but will slowly rise in order to pay for that huge building. I'm going to keep my eyes open and shop where I can get the best deals and quality merchandise. That may mean that I'll shop at both stores.
Kevin Schwarm May 21, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Of course I’m conscious about shopping local (Libertyville) but only to a point. Sunset has great produce although many of their items are pricey. Is Mayor Weppler suggesting I shop at Sunset regardless of the extra expense to help out the tax base in Libertyville? I’ve shopped from time to time at Jewel for the last 20 years and have never been wowed. Their prices are not terribly competitive and their customer service does not excite me – typically I wait in line regardless of what Jewel store I visit. I wonder how much they care about their customers. This is simply Supply and Demand. You want me to do more grocery shopping in Libertyville, build or develop a store which supplies good service, competitive prices and a good selection and I’ll support Libertyville as much as possible. That same principle could apply to a discount or department store.
G. D. June 07, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Echo your thoughts Keith but I hadn't heard the comment about adding gas. That truly is ridiculous and would never pass unless perhaps they tear down the preschool next door. What would help relieve congestion is a drive up at the Osco pharmacy on the north side of the building. Insiders tell me it is ALL about the bottom line for the manager of Jewel as it is directly tied to his (rather large) bonus so don't expect any changes that will affect profits anytime soon... Least not till he is replaced by someone a bit more savvy that can see the future (beyond his bonus) of this store.
Jim King June 26, 2011 at 02:02 PM
I have shopped at the new store but quickly realized that there were many come-on pricing in effect, and I should not expect to see them last. I have since returned to Jewel_Osco and I continue to get good value for my dollars, good service and I do believe in shopping local.

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