The Chainlink

No backpack rule at Pete's fresh market: discriminatory to cyclists?

At the Pete's where I regularly do groceries on Madison by Western, they've started to get more vocal with me about their enforcement of their no backpack rule (the security folks at the door have). I think this discriminates against cyclists (discrimination doesn't have to be targeted, it can be a naturally occurring result). I've yet to take it up with their management, just wondering what the chainlinkers think about this.

Of course it's their store and I understand security concerns. I understand I could not shop there, but I like the convenience and selection and I would think security can just catch shoplifters the same way other stores with less restrictive backpack rules do.

I just think it isn't very nice to not accommodate cyclist shoppers! We tend to have backpacks so we can carry our groceries etc (I also have bike baskets but I like carrying my phone and wallet and any extra groceries that don't otherwise fit - in the backpack). It's not like we can leave the backpack in the car (their suggestion is for me to take it and leave it with customer service- I don't feel safe leaving my stuff with them and I'd have to enter the exit and then go all the way back around to do my shopping and come back and wait to get my backpack before I can check out- not very practical!)

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VW, I worked at IL Dept of Human Rights for along time and I wholeheartedly disagree. By your own words, we (cyclists) are not a protected class, therefore cannot claim "disparate impact". The store's policy may be inconvenient  but it certainly is not discriminatory. 

Good morning!

My name is Angelique. I work in the Pete's Fresh Market corporate office. I received an alert about your concern and wanted to openly address it.  First, let me tell you that I am thankful for your choice to shop with us. After all, you are the real reason why I am here (smile).

Know that the family owners of Pete's Fresh Market respect and value customer feedback. Yes, we do have a no backpack policy. It is for the safety and security of our employees and customers. Our backpack policy is not a new policy for any of our store locations. Our Madison & Western store experienced a spike in unfavorable activities over the last year. To thwart some of those activities, the decision makers within our organization have made sure that protocols are in place and routinely adhered to by company personnel. Know that our backpack policy is non-discriminatory. It stands for all customers, not just cyclists.

While checking a backpack with customer service may be an extra step during your quick trip, I can confidently share that, to date, there have been zero customers complain about items missing upon retrieval after shopping. I share that simply to say, that while it is impractical, you can look on the bright side, you have absolutely nothing to worry about while you shop - hands free shopping!

We welcome you, along with any of our other customers to contact our customer service department directly about additional concerns while shopping. Send us an e-mail to or call us directly at 773-733-7332. 

Allow me to reiterate, we are truly here for and because of you. We hope to hear back from you!

Thank you,

Angelique A.

Pete's Fresh Market | Customer Service



I appreciate your response! I still respectfully disagree with your policy but I understand your interest as a business is going to sometimes be different from my interest in convenience as a customer. I will just plan to not bring a backpack at all, I'd rather do that than leave it with anyone. But I do encourage a change in that policy and that you pursue alternative methods to crack down on shoplifters. I also think an additional bike rack wouldnt hurt (you have two but they are designed in such a way that two badly parked bikes can take them both up).

I still think the policy is discriminatory in the sense that it is facially neutral but will tend to disparately impact cyclists!

Thanks again for your response!

I also appreciate your response, and while I understand the reason for your policy, I will not shop at your store due of it. When biking, I keep my valuables, including my wallet - which I need for payment - in my backpack. Asking me to leave my backpack at the front is equivalent to asking me to leave my purse at the front. I will therefore choose to patronize other stores instead.

Do you not do this at any other store where they ask you to? including bike shops, thrift shops, clothing shops, book shops, etc? I'm honestly baffled by why people think this is such a problem or that employees are interested in stealing your things.

I've never had a store ask me to leave my backpack with them while I shop. If I did, I would probably leave. 

tons of thrift stores and book shops do it.

I've had quite a few places ask me to do this through the years so I haven't ever questioned it. Just figured it makes it easier and I can pick it up when I am done. 

Ooh. I was wrong.

For what it's worth Trader Joe's also permits backpacks and bike bags in their store. 

But the customer base of Pete's, compared to Mariano's and Trader Joe's, is pretty different. And the neighborhood of Madison and Western is pretty different from Damen and Chicago. Pete's policy doesn't feel very outrageous to me.

Certainly. But I'd like to see the neighborhood get better and I'd like to see Pete's be a little more friendly to its cyclist patrons, and maybe more will come.

Perhaps "inconvenient" is a better term to describe Pete's policy, as "discriminatory" is a term of legal art, and is best reserved for those attempting to skirt equal protections of the law. That's the whole purpose of requiring a "protected class" when making a claim of discrimination.

I can see that. But I think legally actionable claims don't have a monopoly on the applicable use of the term. And maybe we should be a protected class is some contexts. Only 2 percent of federal funding goes to cycling infrastructure instead of car infrastructure after all!


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