Drug store chain is blasting classical music outside

CHICAGO (WLS) – Walgreens is the latest chain to blast classical music outside some of its stores to deter people from loitering.

Caged speakers surround the outside of certain Chicago Walgreens stores, blasting a loop of classical classics.

“This sounds a little dark, like the “Phantom of the Opera” like stuff, you know, but I guess you got to start somewhere,” a woman outside the store said.

“I thought maybe their system was like stuck playing the same track over and over again from Halloween or something like that,” a man outside the store said.

Nothing is stuck. The Walgreens’ short playlist, which includes some Bach and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” is played repeatedly to deter loitering.

“I don’t know, I don’t know how that does that. I mean, I think it’s an interesting idea. I’d like to understand what the science is behind it. Somebody’s figured this out,” the woman said.

According to Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens, there is no hard data behind it, but it may be working.

During midday, two locations with the music did not have anyone loitering, while another Walgreens without the music had people hanging out.

In a written statement, the corporation said that for more than a year, it has implemented a loop of classical music at certain locations nationwide, including Chicago, and Walgreens is not alone.

Opera is the genre of choice for 7-Eleven stores. A few in Chicago also played music to deter loitering.

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless blasts the tactic used by both companies.

“It’s essentially treating them as less than human and treating them as a nuisance, whereas, there are folks that are in need of housing and support,” said Doug Schenkelberg, executive director of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

There is no music yet at the South Loop Walgreens where Robert Jackson likes to hang out because it’s shady.

The 63-year-old is experiencing homelessness. He said a loop of music would not keep him from staying. He said he would welcome it.

“I love music, all types of music, so it wouldn’t really bother me, but I’d be the one being right there listening to it, bobbing my head,” Jackson said.

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