Wife-and-husband entrepreneurial team Jilea and Jamie Michael Hemmings have opened the first Black-owned autonomous grocery store in the world in Fayetteville, Georgia, called Nourish + Bloom Market.
The establishment of the grocery store was inspired by their autistic son. Their son was diagnosed with autism and doctors told them that the best way to help was to make sure he is eating healthy. They started experimenting with healthy and plant-based foods in the hopes of improving their child’s performance and later, started selling their products in farmers’ markets, according to ABC News.
Customers then started asking the couple if they had some of their food substitutes in grocery stores. This led them to start Nourish + Bloom during the pandemic, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
“As we started to help him eat well we started to come up with ways to help other kids eat well too, by taking a traditional kids meal and making a healthy twist to it,” Jilea Hemmings told What Now Atlanta. In their first product, Greenie Tots, the pair used plant-based meats to replace traditional proteins in quick, healthy kids’ meals, according to What Now Atlanta.
Madamenoire reports that Nourish + Bloom Market offers locally sourced and crafted groceries as well as everyday household items. In addition, the store’s variety includes products that are minimally processed and contain no GMOs or high fructose corn syrup.
“The community response has been overwhelming. They are just so proud to see a Black family doing this, and then also to experience the technology, people have been very excited about that,” Jilea noted, according to Madamenoire.
According to FOX 5 Atlanta, because the store is autonomous, customers do not have to stop at a register and pay as the store is run by multiple multifunctional cameras, and the shelves are used as a weighted scale.
Customers must download the Nourish + Bloom app and upload their payment information then they can get what they need.
“Once you’re done shopping, you can walk out of the doors, and your receipt will be sent to you through the app. Nourish + Bloom also offers a delivery service if you live within a 3-mile radius of the store,” FOX 5 Atlanta wrote.
Meanwhile, Jilea and Hemmings are expanding their reach. “Our mission is to give you the best of the best in every category…you can count on the fact that anything sold at Nourish + Bloom will be real food,” Jilea Hemmings said.