Detroit’s sole Black-owned grocery store, Neighborhood Grocery, is coming to Jefferson Chalmers in late summer 2022. Seasoned entrepreneur and founder of the project, Raphael Wright, launched the campaign for support in 2017. Three years later, construction began on the former Manistique Market building on the city’s east side.
The social enterprise is completely crowdfunded through a network of donors and Michigan investors, with nearly $92k raised so far. Local buy-in and community partnership is essential to the operation and is what makes Neighborhood Grocery unique; the model ensures community investors share in the store’s success. Deeply Rooted Garden, a garden plot managed by Wright a few blocks from the store, will help stock the shelves with fresh produce.
Tell me about Neighborhood Grocery. How did it start? Who’s behind it and how is it different from a typical grocery store?
Raphael Wright (RW): My life’s passion is to rebuild Detroit neighborhoods – or in my view “building” them because so much of what’s needed to have a flourishing community was absent from my neighborhood when I was young. Community development, or redevelopment, starts with food sovereignty. A community that can feed itself can lead itself to do very great things. Hence, that’s where Neighborhood Grocery has its origins.
Neighborhood Grocery is a grocery for Detroiters, owned and run by Detroiters. I’m approaching grocery a little differently in the sense that I am positioning Neighborhood Grocery like an anchor, which is exactly what grocery stores are supposed to be. Currently, our local grocery stores make money and it leaves the community instead of reinvesting in it.
Why Jefferson Chalmers?
RW: Jefferson Chalmers is not only a food swamp (given there’s no immediate grocery store in the area), but also it is home to many urban gardens, neighborhood groups, and active neighbors which is all a social Entrepreneur like myself can ask for in its efforts to bring change to the community.
How can folks get involved?
RW: The unique thing about this project is that it’s powered by crowdfunding. Supporters can donate to our GoFundMe campaign to help us close our funding gap. We are also taking investments as little as $50 in exchange for a profit share, product discounts, and exclusive access to company projects. Outside of financially contributing, we are looking for philanthropic donations in the form of technical assistance, donated equipment, and spreading the word.
Visit Neighborhood Grocery’s website to get involved.
Emily Row is the Content Creator at Taste the Local Difference.
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