Raphael Wright, the city of Detroit’s only Black-owned grocery shop, has finally opened its doors after six years. Grocery is a converted liquor store on the corner of Essex and Manistique in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers area, 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 was no Black-owned food store in Detroit until recently. Despite the fact that the city is 80% African American, Metro Foodland, the city’s only Black-owned grocery, closed its doors in 2014 after three decades in business on the city’s west side, according to Online Business America.
Wright, the city’s only Black grocery owner, has previously stated that his objective is to use the grocery as a starting stone to revitalize 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 turned to crowdfunding to fund his grocery store because big investors were uninterested in the narrow margins of profit that businesses like his create. “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.