After six years, one of the only Black-owned grocery stores in the City of Detroit has officially opened thanks to Raphael Wright. Neighborhood Grocery is a liquor store that was turned into a health food shop on the corner of Essex and Manistique in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, WXYZ reported.
Wright told the news outlet that the goal is to assist residents to grow healthy. “To build a community you have to have healthy food and healthy access to the food and the start is in grocery stores,” the serial entrepreneur, who is also a farmer, said.
“I’m from the neighborhoods I work in and I want to make them better. They were good at one point and I want to bring back that glory,” he added.
A study by the Detroit Food Policy Council in 2017 said some 30,000 residents of Detroit do not have access to a full grocery store. Some experts even characterized certain parts of Detroit as “food deserts” due to a lack of affordable and healthy food options. There are now about three Black-owned grocery stores in Detroit, with one being owned by a retired registered nurse.
Wright, who is now behind one of the only Black-owned grocery stores in the city, said in the past that his ambition is to use the grocery as a stepping stone to redevelop neglected communities.
“A grocery store is the start of that process of getting the community redeveloped, getting populations to come back to their certain areas,” he told Michigan Radio. “You have to have food there, where you can’t live somewhere where you don’t have access to food.”
Wright resorted to crowdfunding to fund his grocery store because of the lack of interest by big investors in the small margin of profits businesses like his generate. “Instead of begging to be at somebody else’s table or knocking at somebody else’s door,” he said. “We created our own platform and do what we need to do for ourselves.”
Wright’s community is excited by the opening of the grocery store. “I don’t have to go all the way out to Jefferson now to the market, now this is right in the neighborhood,” Karla Maddox said to FOX 2.
This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Wright is not the only black grocery store owner in the city