Buyk Grocery Delivery Company files for bankruptcy due to Russian invasion of Ukraine

WICKER PARK — Grocery delivery company Buyk has already filed for bankruptcy and officially ceased operations in Chicago and New York, where it was based.

The company filed for bankruptcy on March 17 after company executives said Russian sanctions had cut off its main sources of funding. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

The company’s CEO says Russia’s recent crackdown on the United States over its sanctions response to the war in Ukraine has hurt Buyk’s ability to receive funds from its founders, Slava Bocharov and Rodion Shishkov. The couple co-founded Samokat, a delivery service based in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The bankruptcy filing called Russia’s war with Ukraine an “existential and ultimately fatal crisis” for the company.

“Although the debtor was operating and earning income, it was at the beginning
stages of its growth and relied, in part, on cash injections from the founders to continue its operations and expansion,” the filing states. “Unfortunately, although the founders were not and are not subject to sanctions, the restrictions on the ability to transfer funds out of Russia made it impossible for the founders to provide additional funding to the debtor.”

Buyk promised free grocery delivery to the North Side and part of the Southwest Side near Midway Airport, according to the company’s website, which has now been disabled.

Buyk laid off around 98% of its workers in early March. The company then said it was a temporary measure until it could secure additional funding, which ultimately did not materialize.

“We diligently explored all possible options and partnerships to restructure Buyk and maintain the business, however, the war in Ukraine and subsequent funding restrictions unfortunately made it impossible to continue operations,” said the CEO of Buyk, James Walker, in a statement.

Buyk operated eight locations in Chicago at the time of its bankruptcy filing, according to court records. Couriers packed items from stores, which were not open to the public but were stocked with food from local and national vendors.

Several stores on Chicago’s North Side were still displaying Buyk signage this week. At least one location, in Portage Park, had “For Rent” signs in the windows on Monday.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
The former Buyk “black store” in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood

Buyk’s closure comes less than two months after Logan Square neighbors complained in February that the company was throwing away fresh produce and other unopened groceries at its warehouse at Logan Square, 2774 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The incident led Ukrainian village resident Jim Humay to partner with the company for bi-weekly food drives to distribute food to community refrigerators in the area, known as “Love Fridges”.

A Buyk spokesperson did not respond to questions about what was done with leftover food at Buyk stores.

Credit: Provided
Jim Humay partnered with Buyk on a food rescue program after learning the delivery company was throwing away tons of fresh produce.

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