Although there are a lot of Black-owned businesses in the city of Detroit, there are no known Black-owned grocery stores. But one local entrepreneur, Raphael Wright, is planning to open what he says will be the first and only grocery store in the city owned by an African American.
Two years ago, Wright started the efforts to increase representation in terms of ownership in Detroit. He raised $47,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, gathered $70,000 through different forms of funding, and used $50,000 of his own money to invest in a grocery store that is considered to be the first ever Black-owned one in the area.
While looking for funding opportunities became relatively easy for Wright, it wasn’t the same for finding an appropriate real estate. After being rejected many times, he currently has a proposed plan for a 5,000-square-foot grocery store in Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood as a part of a mixed-use development. He is also still finding other possible locations, especially in underserved communities.
As part of a larger prospect, Wright aims to bring healthy, fresh foods to the Black community in a more affordable and accessible way. He plans on working with the local urban agricultural network to make that possible. More than just a business, he also believes the store could serve as a cultural hub and community meeting space.
Moreover, Wright hopes his initiative to open his own grocery store in his community will help promote the significance of Black ownership and reinvesting in our own communities.
“It goes back to how you control your community. Whoever feeds you really controls you. And if we’re not in control of that — it’s bigger than just the economic consequence. We lose a piece of our culture, our history,” Wright told Civil Eats. “There’s much more at stake when Black people don’t control food. There’s our health, our culture — everything is at stake when we don’t control the grocery store.”