Robert Thomas opened the first Black-owned grocery store in Houston, Texas called District Market Green Grocer. It was previously a nightclub that he owned in the same location. Thomas now aims to open more Black-owned grocery stores across the country in hopes of ending food deserts.
Thomas started doing business in Houston when he opened District 1960 nightclub that he had operated for 5 years. But when the pandemic hit and he had to shut down the business, he decided to turn the nightclub into what is essential at that time — a grocery store.
“There were long lines outside of the grocery store during the pandemic. This resulted in the creation of popup shops and farmers’ markets. I began to say to myself why aren’t these products are not in big block stores. This gives me an idea to create a place for these small business owners to sell their products,” Thomas told The Houston Chronicle.
Thomas, who has always been interested in nutrition, opened District Market Green Grocer last November. The grocery sells fresh fruits, vegetables, and many other products supplied by over 40 Black local businesses. It also features a juice bar where shoppers can bring fresh fruits and vegetables and the staff will juice them for them.
Moreover, Thomas said he plans to expand the business to several locations in the country and even internationally. He is currently in the works to launch his second grocery store in Houston, still with giving back to the Black community in mind.