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View Full Version : Grocery closings hit Detroit hard & National chains stay away



Jularc
Jul 6, 2007, 9:00 PM
Grocery closings hit Detroit hard
City shoppers' choices dwindle as last big chain leaves


http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070705&Category=METRO&ArtNo=707050349&Ref=V2Q=100&MaxW=500
Shopper Gordon Alexander, 52, of Detroit says that with the closure of Farmer Jack
stores like this one on East Jefferson, "People who live here can't even find something
decent to eat. Where's the justice in that?"


Joel J. Smith and Nathan Hurst
Thursday, July 05, 2007

DETROIT -- Colleen Rogers isn't looking forward to crossing the street to shop for even a few groceries.

The store, a locally owned market, is convenient, just steps away from the beauty shop where she works on Livernois in Detroit. But what troubles her is its higher prices, lack of variety and the low quality of fruit, vegetables, meats and other food -- staples Rogers could find every day in abundance at the Farmer Jack store near her home that is about to close.

"Sure, there's other grocery stores, but try finding something to eat in there," said the 34-year-old skin care specialist. "You can't buy quality food in the city anymore."

The lack of major grocery stores has long been a quality-of-life problem in Detroit and one reason some families don't want to live in the city. Now, however, the situation is getting worse as the last two Farmer Jack stores in the city prepare to close by Saturday.

If no grocery stores buy the Farmer Jack locations from the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Detroit will be left without a single national chain supermarket, much less a Wal-Mart or Meijer superstore or a Costco-style warehouse store.

Analysts say no other major city in America is such a supermarket desert. And it's not likely to change anytime soon.

Recent efforts by city officials, developers and community activists to woo a supermarket have been unsuccessful. Major grocery chains, which generally operate with thin profit margins, say doing business in Detroit is no-win situation. High employee turnover, cost of security and loss from theft are often cited. The city's comparably low income rates preclude selling an abundance of high-profit, upscale items.

The situation has left regular shoppers at the Farmer Jack stores -- one on East Jefferson and the other on Livernois at Seven Mile -- with two choices: drive the suburbs to shop if they have transportation, or buy groceries at smaller stores near their homes.

"Why should we have to go elsewhere to find a trustworthy store?" asked Joe Lanier, a longtime shopper of the Livernois Farmer Jack who owns a nearby business. "It's ridiculous you can't buy all the groceries you need in Detroit."


High cost of doing business


Within its 139 square miles, Detroit has 155 grocery stores, defined as various-size food markets with meat and produce. The city also has 1,000 convenience stores -- including gas stations and party stores -- that sell some type of food.

A 2003 University of Michigan study of Detroit supermarkets showed there were only five grocery stores in Detroit with over 20,000 square feet. The report concluded that the city could support 41 supermarkets with at least 40,000 square feet of space based on its population and spending habits.

Over the years, national chains have located in Detroit, only to pull up stakes and flee. There are a multitude of reasons, according to retail analysts, with the major deterrent being the high cost of doing business in the city.

"Sometimes even the people that live in the neighborhood don't feel safe shopping in the store," said David J. Livingston, a supermarket expert from Wisconsin. "They'll drive right past that Detroit store to go to a suburban store where they feel more comfortable."

While crime is a concern, Matt Allen, press secretary for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, said the issue should not be used as an excuse by the big chains to avoid Detroit.

"In certain areas where the socioeconomic is probably at the lowest end of our society, there are a lot of desperate people," Allen said.

But, he added, businesses can take measures to prevent theft.

"(Businesses) have added lighting, changed the heights of the counters, put the registers in certain places -- security by environmental design. It all helps," he said.

Detroit also suffers from a lack of strip malls with tenants to serve everyday needs. Large supermarket chains don't like to open stand-alone stores, said Ken Dalto, a retail expert from Farmington Hills.


"Larger supermarkets have a better chance of surviving if they are located in strip malls where people can do one-stop shopping," Dalto said. "If you don't have these anchor spots at strip malls, you aren't going to get the large chain supermarkets."

A number of the city's major developers and economic growth officials said efforts to draw a national grocer to the city have met tepid responses.

Midtown Development President Robert Slattery said he showed a plan for a 12,000-square-foot store with 65 parking spaces to specialty grocer Trader Joe's, but the company didn't bite.

His company and Wayne State University are still working to lure a new market to Midtown.


Expired food is a problem


Most independent food stores in Detroit are owned and operated by Chaldeans, some of whom have been in business for 40 or more years. A few are owned by African-Americans.

Martin Manna, executive director of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce in Southfield, said Chaldeans have stepped in as A&P, Farmer Jack and Kroger have abandoned the city.

"There usually is a market within walking distance of nearly every area of Detroit," Manna said. "It might not be a supermarket. That might be why there are so many people eating potato chips rather than wholesome foods in Detroit."

Although shoppers may complain prices are higher at independent stores, independent grocers said they strive to be competitive, even with the high costs of running a store in the city.

While there are clean, well-run stores scattered throughout the city, many don't offer the variety and selection of a Farmer Jack.

Many residents rely on convenience stores for bread, milk, eggs and snacks. Small stores that do offer meat and produce often sell food past its expiration date, shoppers said. The city has raided stores over the years to crack down on sales of expired food, but many say the problem still persists.

Pat Hollins, an activist with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, told of stopping in a small neighborhood grocer several weeks ago and immediately finding two expired packages of breakfast sausage.

ACORN has been picketing stores it contends have been selling expired meats and unhealthy foods.

"We have problems with meat and produce being expired," Hollins said. "We have no security in the parking lots, no restrooms in the stores and a poor selection of food products. When you cross Eight Mile, these problems all disappear. The poor folks, who don't have transportation to the suburbs to shop, are being taken advantage of."


'Where's the justice in that?'


Without chain grocers in her neighborhood, shoppers like Cheryl Coleman, who lives just blocks from the Farmer Jack on East Jefferson, will have to travel much farther for low-priced sundries.

"I'm sure going to miss this store," Coleman said. "I got everything I need here, just everything. We need a good grocery store in the city, right here on Jefferson."

She said she'll probably end up shopping at a Kroger in Grosse Pointe. "It's either Kroger or the little local store," Coleman said. "And they don't always have everything I want."

Gordon Alexander, 52, who lives on the city's east side, said suburbanites have it good compared to Detroiters.

"There is only one store in the city I'll pick up some stuff at, but my kids jokingly call it the 'ghetto store' because everything is subpar," he said.

"Some of these stores make the argument that they are catering to black clientele, so they have to make room to carry stuff like ham hocks and chitterlings, but that's just an excuse for bad quality.

"Here we are, trying to revitalize the waterfront and make this city whole again, but people who live here can't even find something decent to eat. Where's the justice in that?"


http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070705&Category=METRO&ArtNo=707050349&Ref=H3&Profile=1003&MaxW=1500&Q=100&title=1
John Reffigee of Detroit loads groceries into his car after shopping at the Parkway Foods
grocery store on Detroit's east side on Tuesday. Detroit has 155 food markets of various
size, but few big stores.


http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070705&Category=METRO&ArtNo=707050349&Ref=V4&Profile=1003&MaxW=1500&Q=100&title=1
An employee gathers carts outside a Farmer Jack store, where remaining merchandise
is discounted up to 90 percent.


National chains stay away from Detroit


Here are some reasons cited by national retail experts on why brand supermarket chains avoid Detroit:

Net profits at supermarkets run 1-5 percent of revenue. If shoplifting by customers and employees runs 7-8 percent, the store is doomed to lose money.

High cost of maintaining security for the stores, something most suburban locations don't need. Shopping carts often disappear, at a cost of $300 per cart.

Personal safety for employees, with robberies, thefts and assaults both inside and outside the stores.

Difficulty finding qualified managers willing to run Detroit stores. Most prefer the suburban locations. Problems seeking qualified workers for the stores. It can be a major undertaking to find employees who can pass reading, writing and math tests along with credit, criminal background and drug tests. And there is a constant turnover of employees at stores in the city. "It's a human resource nightmare," said David J. Livingston, a supermarket expert from Wisconsin.

Declining population. No national chain wants to move into an area that is losing population. Lower per-capita income. That means less expenditure on food.

Racism and discrimination accusations. If the store raises its prices because of higher costs of doing business, it is often charged with gouging the poor. A well-publicized violent crime or armed robbery can cost the store 10 percent of its business. Three such crimes, experts say, and the store may as well close its doors.

Source: Supermarket experts



© Copyright 2007 The Detroit News (http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070705/METRO/707050349&imw=Y)

J. Will
Jul 6, 2007, 9:07 PM
A 2003 University of Michigan study of Detroit supermarkets showed there were only five grocery stores in Detroit with over 20,000 square feet. The report concluded that the city could support 41 supermarkets with at least 40,000 square feet of space based on its population and spending habits.

So assuming both those stores were over 20k square feet, and no other large supermarkets have opened in Detroit in the past three years, that leaves a city of over 800,000 people with three supermarkets over 20,000 square feet.

tackledspoon
Jul 6, 2007, 9:16 PM
I read an article about this a while ago, though I don't remember where. It's really a shame. Pittsburgh was experiencing a similar phenomenon in some areas while I was living there, but I heard that a new Whole Foods has opened since I left, so maybe the trend is reversing there.

hudkina
Jul 6, 2007, 9:55 PM
Considering someone decided to create an alarmist thread over the issue, I thought I'd set the issue straight.

Detroit's two Farmer Jacks get buyers

Independent grocers may save supermarkets set to close Saturday.

Rick Blanchard / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Two Farmer Jack stores in Detroit, which are set to close by Saturday, will be purchased by independent grocers, a move that could ease residents' concerns about a lack of quality supermarkets in the city, according to union and community officials.

Independent grocer Mike's Fresh Market has emerged as the likely buyer of the Farmer Jack supermarket on Livernois at Seven Mile in a deal that is still being formalized, according to Kim Tandy, program manager for University Commons, the area in Detroit's west side where the market sits in a retail strip mall.

Mike's Fresh Market plans to remodel and clean up the supermarket. "We went to Mike's Market and spoke to one of the partners there and he was very open to our needs and wants," Tandy said.

An independent grocer also has agreed to purchase the Farmer Jack location on East Jefferson in Detroit, according to Rick Blocker, secretary/treasurer of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 876. No information was available about the owner late Thursday.

Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. is closing all 66 of its Farmer Jack locations in southeast Michigan by Saturday and has been working with several buyers to take over stores. Cincinnati-based Kroger has purchased 20 Farmer Jack locations. Several of the new Krogers are slated to open today.

Flint-based VG's Food & Pharmacy bought two stores in Fenton and another in Shelby. Hollywood Market has agreed to purchase stores in Madison Heights, Rochester Hills and Lake Orion. Busch's of Ann Arbor has agreed to purchase two stores, one in Novi and one in South Lyon. Southfield-based Hiller's has purchased a Farmer Jack in Commerce Township. Independent grocers have purchased more than a dozen Farmer Jack locations.

About 20 stores do not yet have owners and are expected to close.

Tandy said the Farmer Jack was key to the community -- bordered by Livernois, Eight Mile, Wyoming, the Lodge and Six Mile. Tandy's group participated along with Gesu Church in a rally Monday in support of finding a grocer to take over the site. "We had about 50 people in the rally and just wanted to make sure we got a responsible retailer for the site," she said.

She said she spoke with Jamal Abro, who owns Mike's Fresh Market along with Mike Kouza. Mike's has another market at Gratiot and Seven Mile, which the company bought two years ago from Kroger. Abro could not be reached for comment. "He is really really anxious and very excited to work with the community and get what the community wants done," she said.

Paul Bensman, owner and consultant with Details in Retail based in Southfield, said food retailer and developer Jerry Pattah of West Bloomfield picked up the Livernois Farmer Jack from A&P and is selling it to Mike's Market.

"People will get better service and a better store than Farmer Jack -- they are good operators," Bensman said. "They will get good values and service."

Detroit is served by several smaller operators and Eastern Market, as well as Europe-based Aldi, which has two stores in Detroit.

Throughout Metro Detroit, Farmer Jack shoppers are preparing to change their habits.

Barry Mardit, a Huntington Woods resident since 1982, was the final customer at the Farmer Jack at 10 Mile and Coolidge in Oak Park on Thursday night. He's been shopping at the store for 25 years.

"I bought a pacifier and some food coloring -- I don't even need this stuff, my kids are grown -- but I wanted to be the last customer, to be part of history," he said.

Mardit, who works for Macy's, said he was in the store and looked around and there was only one shopper and some workers amid bare shelves.

It then hit him that he could be the last customer.

"These people have been like family," he said.

At the checkout he got the cashier to sign the receipt and about seven workers to break in to a chorus of "it's always savings times at Farmer Jack."

"I got them to smile a little bit -- there was a lot emotion in their eyes."

You can reach Rick Blanchard at (313) 222-2661 or rblanchard@detnews.com.



Kroger is buying 20 locations throughout Metro Detroit in areas such as Troy, Birmingham and Sterling Heights. A half dozen will open as early as today.

Flint-based VG's Food & Pharmacy bought two stores in Fenton and another in Shelby.

Hollywood Market has agreed to purchase stores in Madison Heights, Rochester Hills and Lake Orion.

Busch's has agreed to purchase two stores, one in Novi and one in South Lyon.

Hillers has purchased a Farmer Jack in Commerce Township.

Independent grocers have purchased more than a dozen Farmer Jack locations, including two stores in Detroit.

Approximately 20 stores scattered throughout Metro Detroit are set to close no later than Saturday. They could reopen later if buyers emerge.

miketoronto
Jul 6, 2007, 9:56 PM
Who needs supermarkets when you got Eastern Market in Detroit :)
That place is amazing and the prices are cheap, the food fresh, and great selection.

Anyway I do understand you need supermarkets for some things. I tell you, these companies are losing out big by not opening stores in Detroit. So much latent demand, and no one wants to tap into it.

Rusty van Reddick
Jul 6, 2007, 10:12 PM
Kind of forces you to put things into perspective when people in Calgary (for example) complain about having "only" two big, modern, full-service grocery stores, and many, many corner/convenience stores, downtown.

I'd be interested to hear from forumers in Detroit proper- what do you do for groceries? Eastern Market looks like a treasure for sure, but it's only open until 5 (albeit 6 days per week!), so most people would have to do all their shopping on Saturdays.

hudkina
Jul 6, 2007, 10:29 PM
This is dumb. People are going to read the title and think that Detroit doesn't have any grocery stores. They won't read the article I posted showing that these two full service grocery stores aren't going anywhere. Also, Detroit does have plenty of local grocery stores. This article is referring to the fact that no national chain stores are operating in the city anymore. There are dozens and dozens of traditional grocery stores throughout the city.

Whoever the administrator was that deleted the other thread, the least you could do is change the title of this thread...

Crawford
Jul 6, 2007, 10:31 PM
Who needs supermarkets when you got Eastern Market in Detroit :)
So much latent demand, and no one wants to tap into it.

The grocery business is very low margin, and Detroit has theft issues. Of course, Detroit is not alone in this problem. Add the fact that your clientele is generally low-income and downwardly mobile and that overall population is decreasing. Throw in a weak economy and an unfamiliar demographic (85% black) and the supermarket model doesn't seem to work.

Other chain supermarkets have tried and failed in Detroit. On the other hand, Chaldean-owned independent markets appear successful, though their quality sometimes leaves much to be desired.

There are some notable exceptions. I know a nice black-owned supermarket on Grand River in Northwest Detroit, and I think there is a nice Mexican- oriented supermarket in Southwest Detroit.

Evergrey
Jul 6, 2007, 10:34 PM
I read an article about this a while ago, though I don't remember where. It's really a shame. Pittsburgh was experiencing a similar phenomenon in some areas while I was living there, but I heard that a new Whole Foods has opened since I left, so maybe the trend is reversing there.

Whole Foods opened in East Liberty in 2002... 3 years before you moved here...
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_94241.html

Within a mile of my inner-city location I have Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Giant Eagle Market District, 2 regular Giant Eagles, Shur-Save, 2 Italian grocers, Shadyside independent grocer and probably more I can't think of... very few areas of the city truly qualify as "food deserts" on the scale of Detroit. Detroit does not have a major supermarket within its borders (over 800,000) now that Farmer Jack is closing. To attempt to compare Pittsburgh to this extreme phenomenon is beyond the pale. The crummy Giant Eagle on Centre Ave. in North Oakland closed last year and the Shop N Save in East Liberty closed. While it's unfortunate that your former neighborhood does not have a full-scale grocer... the revamped Giant Eagle Market District a couple blocks further down Centre Ave. and Whole Foods are both a quick bus ride away... and within walking distance of a large population of post-freshman students. The East Liberty Shop N Save closed because it couldn't compete with the other grocers in East Liberty... which has suddenly become a foodie hotspot (Giant Eagle Market District, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, another Giant Eagle). And the tiny Giant Eagle in the outer neighborhood of Carrick moved 1 mile down the road to the adjacent suburb of Brentwood in 2003. There are still food desert areas here (Hill District, Downtown, parts of the North Side, Oakland strangely)... but if anything... food availability and quality has been increasing here. Giant Eagle has even developed a new smaller store concept designed for urban areas called Giant Eagle Express... one of these is opening in the North Side neighborhood of Manchester which currently lacks good food options. And Downtown now has 3 or 4 seperate proposals for independent grocers.


For comparison... Detroit has 0 major supermarkets in its 130 sq. miles.

Pittsburgh has the following major chain supermarkets within its 55 sq. miles... most if not all of these are very well served by mass transit:

Giant Eagle locations:
Cedar Ave. Deutschtown
Murray Ave. Greenfield
Plummer St. Lawrenceville
Centre Ave. Shadyside (Market District)
Shakespeare St. E. Liberty
Wharton Ave. South Side
Murray Ave. Squirrel Hill
Waterworks Plaza
Brighton Rd. Brighton Heights

Shop N Save locations:
Lawrenceville

Foodland:
Mt. Oliver
Mt. Washington
Beechview

Shur-Save:
Bloomfield

Trader Joe's
East Liberty

Whole Foods:
East Liberty

...


As for this Detroit situation... I remember driving past Farmer Jack's when Michi gave me a tour a few years ago. He told me it was the only major supermarket in city limits. I was horrified at the thought. This is definately a large impediment to the quality of life there. The dearth of food options combined with Detroit's pathetic mass transit system must make food shopping extremely difficult for a lot of city residents.

Rusty van Reddick
Jul 6, 2007, 10:38 PM
This is dumb. People are going to read the title and think that Detroit doesn't have any grocery stores.

No, I think people will read the title and think exactly what the title says, which is that Detroit is desperately under-served by grocery stores. Two stores finding POSSIBLE buyers doesn't improve the situation; it only makes it as bad as it already was.

What do posters on here who live in Detroit (not the burbs, in the city) do for groceries?

J. Will
Jul 6, 2007, 10:56 PM
This is dumb. People are going to read the title and think that Detroit doesn't have any grocery stores.

If someone isn't going to read the article, do you really care what they are going to think?

I think one of the worst things about this situation, is that it almost forces lots of low-income families to buy a car, something they could save thousands of dollars a year by not buy, especially with Detroit's insurance rates.

hudkina
Jul 6, 2007, 11:27 PM
No, I think people will read the title and think exactly what the title says, which is that Detroit is desperately under-served by grocery stores. Two stores finding POSSIBLE buyers doesn't improve the situation; it only makes it as bad as it already was.

The title says "Grocery closings hit Detroit hard". That implies that there are grocery stores closing all over the city creating a huge void. That's not the case at all. There were only TWO Farmer Jack stores in the city. And those TWO Farmer Jack stores are in the process of being purchased by a local grocery chain and will reopen under the name of Mike's Fresh Market in the coming weeks.

Sure Detroit is underserved by large full service grocers, but most urban neighborhoods are. Sure it sucks that national chains aren't willing to come into the city because they fear they won't make a profit, but that doesn't mean that Detroit is devoid of places for residents to buy their food. It sucks that for most people that means shopping at a local corner store, but I highly doubt it is any different for low income residents in other cities. I doubt people in certain neighborhoods in Cleveland or Los Angeles or Miami are shopping at Kroger...

What do posters on here who live in Detroit (not the burbs, in the city) do for groceries?

The people in Detroit go to their local grocery store. Just because it isn't a Kroger doesn't mean it is completely terrible. Sure there are some stores that do have a poor selection of produce and meat, but there are others that have a good selection.

I think one of the worst things about this situation, is that it almost forces lots of low-income families to buy a car, something they could save thousands of dollars a year by not buy, especially with Detroit's insurance rates.

Most of the people who shop at these big box grocery stores already own cars! Those that don't can't afford to buy them regardless of whether or not a store closes.

mello
Jul 6, 2007, 11:33 PM
throw some d's on that b*tch! Damn life in big D is tough, no wonder tons of Chaldeans have moved out here to San Diego and opened up liquor stores....

Off to the sunbelt ya'll

Rusty van Reddick
Jul 7, 2007, 12:06 AM
The people in Detroit go to their local grocery store. Just because it isn't a Kroger doesn't mean it is completely terrible.

I'm under the impression that a lot of Detroiters go to the suburbs to do their groceries. I was also under the impression that you lived in Detroit- what do YOU do?

J. Will
Jul 7, 2007, 12:12 AM
Most of the people who shop at these big box grocery stores already own cars!

Yes, they're basically forced to buy a car because of a dearth of supermarkets in the city (amongst other reasons). My point is that if the city were better-served by supermarkets and other retail (and especially if the public transit were improved), many of them could save thousands of dollars by not owning a car. Just because you are able to own a car doesn't make it fiscally prudent, especially for a low-income family.

LMich
Jul 7, 2007, 1:21 AM
I'm under the impression that a lot of Detroiters go to the suburbs to do their groceries.

You'd be right, to an extent, though as has already been said, there are still plenty of local markets throughout the city. People seem to assume that people only shop at mega-supermarkets/hyper markets, which just isn't the case. Just like in most cases of an desperately underserved city, Detroit's have gotten innovative in how and where they shop. Supermarkets literally ring the city, so the drive is for the vast majority of the population is really not that far.

All of that said, I think that this is hardly alarmist. That corporations from supermarkets to simple general retail refuse to invest in the city is a shame. What they realize is that they don't have to set up in the city to get city residents as city residents must patronize their shops. They know they will automatically lose a significant amount of surburbanites if they set up south of 8 Mile or east of Telegraph, but they know that Detroiters have to come to the suburbs.

These corporation always fall back on the "the amount of employee theft makes a potential store out of the question", but we all know that it can't be any worse than anywhere else. They realize good-and-well that they can eat their cake, and have it to, and it's a damned shame.

This is hardly alarmist; this is a very real crisis. This is disinvestment of the highest degree in a city that can't afford anymore disinvestment. It's ridiculous, because this would lead most people to believe that the city is so poor that it can't support dozens of supermarkets which is hardly the case. It's ridiculous that upper middle-class families in places like Rosedale Park have to deal with this schitt because the corporations are manipulating the system. These are quality of life issues that make even good, stable, and safe neighborhoods like Rosedale Park uncompetitive to suburban neighborhoods.

hudkina
Jul 7, 2007, 1:25 AM
You're talking about Detroit. Most people own cars here because they want to own cars here. The majority of the neighborhoods in Detroit are made up of single-family homes with a garage in back. Even though the city is a dense grid, most neighborhoods aren't mixed-use. Even if they did build a major grocery store for every square mile of the city, most people would still drive to them.

This is the type of neighborhood that the majority of Detroit residents now live in:
http://www.downriverdetroit.net/typicalneighborhood.jpg

I doubt any of these people would walk to the grocery store even if it were only a few blocks away.

Also, I don't live in the city of Detroit, though I have shopped at several different grocery stores in the city. Ironically the Farmer Jack near my house (one of the oldest around) closed. It is one of the few that doesn't have a prospective buyer. A few years earlier another grocery store near my house closed. That must mean that I only buy my groceries at dirty liquor stores right?;)

Also, I attend school at Wayne State in the city and park adjacent to a relatively new strip mall with a large grocery store. There are many people in the surrounding neighborhood who don't own a car and I often see people carrying their groceries home, but even still I always see tons of cars in the parking lot out front.

miketoronto
Jul 7, 2007, 1:49 AM
This could be a plus for Detroit. It could become a city with "real" homegrown food stores again.

Who needs a chain supermarket. Let local people rise to the challenge, and open amazing local stores.

To be honest, for fruit and veggies, I hardly go to major chain supermarkets anymore. The little local family runs stores usually have better prices and nice product. So I have been giving me business to them.

Let Detroit have what cities use to have, local corner food stores, etc. It could work out pretty well.

Who wants to shop at a Safeway or some other store that is in every US city. It makes it boring :)

Who cares if Whole Foods is opening in Pittsburgh for example. Whole Foods means nothing. Now the Strip District. Thats Pittsburgh food shopping :)

LMich
Jul 7, 2007, 3:45 AM
Yes, this is great news for Detroit. The more disinvestment the better. :rolleyes: Mike, you've done it, again. That's easily one of the more naive and out-of-touch of your posts I've witnessed. Yes, let Detroiters eat cake. And, I assume that Detroit having one or two first-run cinemas is great for the city, that means the city can bring back the days of one and two screen movie theaters. You're so incredibly enamored with the idea of the past, that you can't even make real the current world around you. Only in one's own personal fantasy can one spin this as something good for the city.

Trust me, it is, nor was it ever, supermarkets keeping down the development of small grocers in the city, and thus the supermarkets departings will not lead to some small grocer renaissance.

amel70
Jul 7, 2007, 4:35 AM
Detroit isn't the only place that lacks big-box supermarkets. It still has a lot of markets, neighborhood stores and Eastern Market - so what's the big deal? I agree with MikeToronto.

Also, I don't get the cinema analogy (I would understand it if Detroit had no markets and the only 2 were leaving).

blockski
Jul 7, 2007, 5:06 AM
A whole lot of Detroit's remaining 'grocers' are more like liquor stores that sell some potato chips on the side. They're expensive, offer poor selection, and widely vary in quality.

Consumers are a pretty good judge of quality, and the vast majority go outside of the city to do their shopping, as the U of M study showed. There most certainly is a problem.

Policy Wonk
Jul 7, 2007, 5:24 AM
This could be a plus for Detroit. It could become a city with "real" homegrown food stores again.

Who needs a chain supermarket. Let local people rise to the challenge, and open amazing local stores.

To be honest, for fruit and veggies, I hardly go to major chain supermarkets anymore. The little local family runs stores usually have better prices and nice product. So I have been giving me business to them.

Yeah a city lacking in indigenous capital the way Detroit is would be a real likely canidate for a micro-capitalist boom.

And I wouldn't feed the produce at the small grocery stores around here to the rabbits who have moved in my back yard, let alone myself.

and the last farmers market I went to was Byward Market in Ottawa, where the produce looked exactly like you would expect produce to look that has been sitting out all day in 100 degree weather and was more expensive than fresh produce at the Loebs just a few blocks away.

LMich
Jul 7, 2007, 6:31 AM
Detroit isn't the only place that lacks big-box supermarkets. It still has a lot of markets, neighborhood stores and Eastern Market - so what's the big deal? I agree with MikeToronto.

Also, I don't get the cinema analogy (I would understand it if Detroit had no markets and the only 2 were leaving).

Find me another city of Detroit's size that has a near similar of worst grocery situation than Detroit, please. Let's quit apologizing for the situation. If you can find me another city in a similar situation, then we have a discussion.

My annoyance comes from a few on here with such hard-ons for the past and nostalgia for nostaglia's sake, they can't in any way offer up valid solutions to very real modern problems. The idea that the absence of supermarkets will allow the flourishing of old-timey grocers is so out of touch with the reality, and such a spin of the situation, it's offensive. Let him apply his own off-the-mark anecdotes to his own hometown.

When even middle-class and wealthy Detroiters have to dream about having everyday amenities within a reasonable distance (i.e. within their cities large 138 square mile boundaries) you have a problem. That's why I get so annoyed with this oblivious folks who are totally befuddled why a place like Detroit can't retain its middle class. When you have to put up with extra crime, higher taxes, poorer school, poor city services, ect...and then you stack ontop of that these little things like poor connections to retail, it should not be a mystery why Detroiters are looking outside.

It is true that Detroit is hardly the only city with these issues. What's equally true is there is no city the size of Detroit in any American metropolis with these issues so finely and decidedly concentrated within the boundaries of central city.

I'm so sicked and tired of nostalgists and elitists ideologues elevating their views of the "the good ole days" and hardline ideology over the health of broken communities. The debate in a place like Detroit is so far removed from the "indepdent vs corporate" grocers debate it's not even funny. The difference is "quality grocers vs. liquor stores masquerading to no grocers". The former is a completely out of touch "let them eat cake" argument, at the moment.

arbeiter
Jul 7, 2007, 6:48 AM
This can't do anything but make it worse. I am a huge supporter of independent businesses in general, but one market where I tend to prefer a large chain presence is grocery stores. Having lived in Brooklyn, I've seen more than my fair share of moldy $3.50 loaves of bread. I can imagine it gets much worse in Detroit. We are such an obese society as it is, and let's face it, there is a higher problem with obesity among poorer and non-white people, so this problem is more serious than just plain redlining or capital flight.

miketoronto
Jul 7, 2007, 12:06 PM
Lmich it is fine if chain supermarkets want to come in. I understand today's world and that we need supermarkets.

But at the same time, cities are nothing if we don't build local economies also. All the great things about our cities were built long ago by local business and residents.

Cities need a strong local element. So while this situation is bad in a way, Detroit could play it up. The city could encourage locals to set up shop, etc.
I am sure the Mexican's in the city have no problem, because the area they live in has built that "real" city neighbourhood again with bakeries, markets, restaurants, etc. That is what a city is about. And other areas of Detroit could do the same thing, if people open up shop again.

Who wants chain supermarket bread, if a real bakery opens up and offers a good product. Detroit City Council could offer free taxes for a year or something for people to set up shop.

There are many things that can be done.

This situation actually shows why we should not be relying only on chain stores. Because when it comes down to it, they do not care about anyone or the communities they operate in, and who says we are getting the best deal anyway.

So all I am saying is, yes it is a bad situation. But it could be turned into a plus. And it could be a big plus. Look at Eastern Market. Not only do city residents go there, but metro residents visit. Same with Mexicantown. Not only do locals go there, but metro residents as well. And why? Because they offer good products and something unique. Detroit should play this up and make even more interesting food shopping areas.

alon504
Jul 7, 2007, 2:43 PM
It seems that safety is the real issue here, but, with that said, I think that this issue will work itself out in the next year or so. Personally, from all that I've heard and read about Detroit it has already bottomed out and should start to slowly see a rebound that will accelerate down the stretch. Detroit is not dead and will be back. Just hang on for a little longer if you are in the Detroit area....

NewYorkYankee
Jul 7, 2007, 4:20 PM
Another reason why African-American entrepenuralship needs to be stressed. I hope Obama makes this a central theme. Why couldn't Carver or SouthShore (Black-owned banks) step in to stop this disgrace?:hell:

NewYorkYankee
Jul 7, 2007, 4:25 PM
You'd be right, to an extent, though as has already been said, there are still plenty of local markets throughout the city. People seem to assume that people only shop at mega-supermarkets/hyper markets, which just isn't the case. Just like in most cases of an desperately underserved city, Detroit's have gotten innovative in how and where they shop. Supermarkets literally ring the city, so the drive is for the vast majority of the population is really not that far.

All of that said, I think that this is hardly alarmist. That corporations from supermarkets to simple general retail refuse to invest in the city is a shame. What they realize is that they don't have to set up in the city to get city residents as city residents must patronize their shops. They know they will automatically lose a significant amount of surburbanites if they set up south of 8 Mile or east of Telegraph, but they know that Detroiters have to come to the suburbs.

These corporation always fall back on the "the amount of employee theft makes a potential store out of the question", but we all know that it can't be any worse than anywhere else. They realize good-and-well that they can eat their cake, and have it to, and it's a damned shame.

This is hardly alarmist; this is a very real crisis. This is disinvestment of the highest degree in a city that can't afford anymore disinvestment. It's ridiculous, because this would lead most people to believe that the city is so poor that it can't support dozens of supermarkets which is hardly the case. It's ridiculous that upper middle-class families in places like Rosedale Park have to deal with this schitt because the corporations are manipulating the system. These are quality of life issues that make even good, stable, and safe neighborhoods like Rosedale Park uncompetitive to suburban neighborhoods.


:previous: This isn't anything new. Anyone who thinks the days of commerical and residential redlining are over is smoking crack. Black buisness intitives as well as attracting wealthy Black reisdents is an absolute must for Detroit. It's been obvious for years the "establishment" is leaving the city to die. It is our responsiblity to take care of the city ourselves.

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 6:29 PM
If any of you guys are interested in urban food access, or the lack thereof, there is an EXCELLENT audio available to listen to that specifically addresses Detroit's food desert problem. I highly recommend listening to it.

The program is called Detroit Today and can be accessed by the following link:

http://www.wdetfm.org/rss/

You will want to click on "Detroit Today" from the pull-down menu on the left, and "Wednesday 06-20-07" from the menu on the right.

It is a 2 hour program, but you will have the luxury of skipping the commercials which shortens the program significantly.

If you do happen to listen to the program, pay attention to the representative from Kroger and how he dances around the question he was asked.

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 6:42 PM
I'd be interested to hear from forumers in Detroit proper- what do you do for groceries? Eastern Market looks like a treasure for sure, but it's only open until 5 (albeit 6 days per week!), so most people would have to do all their shopping on Saturdays.

I live downtown (Midtown) and grocery shop in the suburbs. It's probably my most hypocritical move, but I do it primarily because of my low income as a student, consumer commitment to Meijer stores, and primarily peace of mind in knowing that produce and other foods are fresh. I didn't shop at the city Farmer Jacks because that chain is over priced in all of its locations. If Meijer bought one of the city Farmer Jacks, I obviously would have chosen them.

Meijer just recently built their closest store to downtown Detroit in Allen Park. That's the grocery store that I use now.

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 6:46 PM
This is dumb. People are going to read the title and think that Detroit doesn't have any grocery stores. They won't read the article I posted showing that these two full service grocery stores aren't going anywhere. Also, Detroit does have plenty of local grocery stores. This article is referring to the fact that no national chain stores are operating in the city anymore. There are dozens and dozens of traditional grocery stores throughout the city.

Whoever the administrator was that deleted the other thread, the least you could do is change the title of this thread...

I disagree. Food access in disadvantaged urban cities is a serious problem around the country. Listen to the Detroit Today show I posted above to hear some good educational discussion on the topic.

The media exploded with the good news that made it seem like Kroger was the primary overtaker of all Farmer Jack Stores. They specifically made a big point out of making sure that everyone knew that will this massive take over, that the two inner city Farmer Jack stores were not chosen by Kroger. Listen to the man on the audio show.

alon504
Jul 7, 2007, 6:53 PM
I disagree. Food access in disadvantaged urban cities is a serious problem around the country. Listen to the Detroit Today show I posted above to hear some good educational discussion on the topic.

The media exploded with the good news that made it seem like Kroger was the primary overtaker of all Farmer Jack Stores. They specifically made a big point out of making sure that everyone knew that will this massive take over, that the two inner city Farmer Jack stores were not chosen by Kroger. Listen to the man on the audio show.

There can be resolution...there is no shortage of good grocery shopping for most areas of New Orleans...possibly in the Bywater area you could find a shortage, but, all other areas of the city, today, even post-Katrina, can go to a large Super-market with all of the fixings. Poor? Public transit is readily available to within blocks, at the most, from any major large supermarket. It can be done. We have urban issues in New Orleans, but, we have great large grocery stores just about everywhere in this city. Detroit should, at least, take a peak at the set-up in New Orleans.

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 6:58 PM
Detroit isn't the only place that lacks big-box supermarkets. It still has a lot of markets, neighborhood stores and Eastern Market - so what's the big deal? I agree with MikeToronto.
The big deal isn't just big...it's huge. The big deal is that of quality. Not too long ago, a local news media station that has a "problem solvers" undercover segment did a story on inner city grocery establishments to see how the quality of the food relates to those in the suburbs. Needless to say and to keep my point short, it was significantly lower...to the extent that many of the stores had food on the shelf that if consumed, could make people sick.

The big deal is what's the point in consuming food (one of the essentials of life...like shelter, clothing, etc) if it's just going to make you ill and not worth the jacked up price you pay for it?

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 7:03 PM
There can be resolution...there is no shortage of good grocery shopping for most areas of New Orleans...possibly in the Bywater area you could find a shortage, but, all other areas of the city, today, even post-Katrina, can go to a large Super-market with all of the fixings. Poor? Public transit is readily available to within blocks, at the most, from any major large supermarket. It can be done. We have urban issues in New Orleans, but, we have great large grocery stores just about everywhere in this city. Detroit should, at least, take a peak at the set-up in New Orleans.
Of course it can be done. That's not really the issue. The issue is it's not being done.

Hell, rich white people (families) "could" populate Detroit's middle class neighborhoods once again, but we all know that's not going to happen. If that happened, would Detroit all of a sudden have overwhelming access to large supermarkets? It's worth thinking about because Detroit's middle class neighborhoods are still populated by middle class people, who provide for the economic demand of this type of grocery. So, what's the difference you ask? Is it really that obvious? Is there a simple answer then? Hmm...

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 7:07 PM
When even middle-class and wealthy Detroiters have to dream about having everyday amenities within a reasonable distance (i.e. within their cities large 138 square mile boundaries) you have a problem. That's why I get so annoyed with this oblivious folks who are totally befuddled why a place like Detroit can't retain its middle class. When you have to put up with extra crime, higher taxes, poorer school, poor city services, ect...and then you stack ontop of that these little things like poor connections to retail, it should not be a mystery why Detroiters are looking outside.
My point too.

J. Will
Jul 7, 2007, 8:18 PM
It seems that safety is the real issue here, but, with that said, I think that this issue will work itself out in the next year or so. Personally, from all that I've heard and read about Detroit it has already bottomed out and should start to slowly see a rebound that will accelerate down the stretch. Detroit is not dead and will be back. Just hang on for a little longer if you are in the Detroit area....

"The issue will work itself out in the next year or so".

Which issue are you referring to? The lack of decent supermarkets in the city of Detroit, or the issue of safety? To suggest that either will "work itself out in the next year or so" shows incredible naivety, especially as pertains to retail offerings. This has been a problem there for decades, and there's no reason to believe it's about to get much better, or has even bottomed out.

When Meijers, a Michigan-based chain won't even open any stores in the largest city in the State, you know there's a severe problem.

Michi
Jul 7, 2007, 8:37 PM
Well, Meijer's a bad example. I don't have the source, but they've stated before that they don't operate in urban areas. Grand Rapids might be an exception since they're based there, but I don't think there is an actual store within the city limits there either.

Detroit has had major chains located here before...even recently. They've left now. There are still smaller ones, like Spartan Stores and whatnot, just not the big supermarkets.

I would bet anyone that the majority of the clientelle at the Meijer at 12 Mile in Southfield are Detroit residents...or recent Southfield residents-by-way-of-Detroit.

NewYorkYankee
Jul 7, 2007, 9:15 PM
I simply have to ask, but is the risk of theft/robbery that bad?

LMich
Jul 8, 2007, 12:44 AM
It seems that safety is the real issue here

You'd be wrong, then. It's not about safety. Again, the reasons many of these chains give is that they lose too much money off employee theft, not robbery.

I hope that also answered your question, as well, NewYorkYankee. Supermarkets expect a level of employer theft. Apparently, rather it is true or not, Detroit is said to have too high a level of employee theft. I really don't know what to believe, as it's not exactly like they put any data out, there, concerning this. And, I'm a bit wary at taking a corporation for its word.

For you to assume it's all about safety is to imply that there is not a safe area in the city in which a supermarket could set up, which is not even close to the truth. Again, these shops aren't setting up in even the nicest and wealthiest neighborhoods in Detroit, of which there are many.

Rusty van Reddick
Jul 8, 2007, 12:52 AM
I simply have to ask, but is the risk of theft/robbery that bad?

Theft and robbery are completely different. Every grocery store anticipates theft, and as noted earlier, grocery stores have tiny margins and the one way to respond to "loss" is to raise prices. Another is to move.

Robbery is another matter entirely.

Michi, thank you for your candid comments on this thread.

hudkina
Jul 8, 2007, 4:09 AM
When I worked in a small retail store, we were allowed a few thousands dollars each quarter for "shrink" which for the most part is employee theft/shop-lifting.

10023
Jul 8, 2007, 8:51 PM
A&P had to sell these stores because they were doing so poorly - they were a drag on the company and very far from the New York / New Jersey area where most of its stores are.

The ones that have any hope of being profitable businesses will just be sold to someone else. Kroger bought a bunch of Farmer Jack stores around southeast Michigan, but maybe none of the Detroit ones. Basically, if there are enough customers nearby to make running a grocery store profitable, someone else will buy the stores and operate them. If there aren't enough paying customers nearby to make the store profitable, it will go away. That's how a capitalist economy works, and the vast majority of the time it works very well.

10023
Jul 8, 2007, 8:53 PM
When I worked in a small retail store, we were allowed a few thousands dollars each quarter for "shrink" which for the most part is employee theft/shop-lifting.
In retail generally this is the case. Food retail is a bit different in that most shrink tends to be the result of spoilage of perishable foods, rather than theft per se. An Abercrombie can keep a pair of cargo shorts on the shelf for as long as they please until they sell them (although once out of season they use discounts and sales to move inventory), because they don't "go bad".

pip
Jul 9, 2007, 12:39 AM
Reading articles like this makes me wonder why people are so oppossed to Walmart opening up in these areas. The residents have no access to fresh produce, affordable food, and other items. Walmart proposes to open up in areas like this and people that don't live in these neighborhoods go up in arms. Makes no sense to me.

Who do you think sells better quality food, Walmart or Dollar Max Plus?
http://www.detroitrising.com/images/vernorspringwells7.jpg

miketoronto
Jul 9, 2007, 1:19 AM
The city must cultivate it's own ecomony again. Our cities were not built on chain stores and supermarkets. They were formed by the hard work of people who opened up shop, etc.

We have to get back to that. We can not rely on chains that care nothing about the places they open in, to do the right thing in places like Detroit.

At the end of the day, what makes a chain store so much better? Nothing. A local person can operate just as nice a store. I never did get why people are obsessed with the chains as if the chains are the only ones that can do no wrong and provide good things. The chains are what have screwed our cities up the most. So I say be happy they are gone, and build up the local economy again.

LMich
Jul 9, 2007, 1:47 AM
If there aren't enough paying customers nearby to make the store profitable, it will go away. That's how a capitalist economy works, and the vast majority of the time it works very well.

Are you implying that in the middle of a city of still 850,000 that there aren't enough paying customers to support supermarkets? I wish this could be so easily explained by simply economics, but it can't.

miketoronto
Jul 9, 2007, 3:45 AM
The thing with Detroit is, you can go on the expressway and in 10-15min be at all the big box supermarkets in the suburbs.

So really, the big stores are not going to say come into city limits, when everyone will just drive out to the burbs.

You could drive 10min within city limits, or drive 10min and be in the burbs, from many parts of Detroit. So people just cross the city limit and shop.

If the distance was really that much of a factor, then maybe stores would open. But I think at this point, so much of the Detroit pop lives near the suburban stores anyway, it really is not that big of a deal.

I know when we were in Detroit last, we drove from downtown Detroit to some mall out in Southfield in like 15min. It really is not that far out for most people, and most people don't live that far south in downtown either.

Evergrey
Jul 9, 2007, 3:57 AM
The thing with Detroit is, you can go on the expressway and in 10-15min be at all the big box supermarkets in the suburbs.

So really, the big stores are not going to say come into city limits, when everyone will just drive out to the burbs.

You could drive 10min within city limits, or drive 10min and be in the burbs, from many parts of Detroit. So people just cross the city limit and shop.

If the distance was really that much of a factor, then maybe stores would open. But I think at this point, so much of the Detroit pop lives near the suburban stores anyway, it really is not that big of a deal.

I know when we were in Detroit last, we drove from downtown Detroit to some mall out in Southfield in like 15min. It really is not that far out for most people, and most people don't live that far south in downtown either.

What about the 21.9% of Detroit households (Census 2000) that don't have a car?

hudkina
Jul 9, 2007, 4:30 AM
They can take the bus. Every person in Detroit lives less than half a mile from a bus stop. And they all have access to the three shopping malls(Northland, Eastland, Fairlane) that are located just outside the city limits.

http://detroittransithistory.info/DDOT-SystemMap2006.jpg

Policy Wonk
Jul 9, 2007, 4:58 AM
At the end of the day, what makes a chain store so much better? Nothing. A local person can operate just as nice a store.

CAPITAL large retail chains have CAPITAL, you need CAPITAL to lease a decent location and you need CAPITAL to stock it with quality merchandise.

And when you have lots of CAPITAL you can negotiate the best prices on quality merchandise.

Walmart will buy merchandise $20,000,000 at a time, who gets the better terms? Walmart or the guy who has to go through two layers of distributors?

LMich
Jul 9, 2007, 6:53 AM
The thing with Detroit is, you can go on the expressway and in 10-15min be at all the big box supermarkets in the suburbs.

So really, the big stores are not going to say come into city limits, when everyone will just drive out to the burbs.

You could drive 10min within city limits, or drive 10min and be in the burbs, from many parts of Detroit. So people just cross the city limit and shop.

If the distance was really that much of a factor, then maybe stores would open. But I think at this point, so much of the Detroit pop lives near the suburban stores anyway, it really is not that big of a deal.

I know when we were in Detroit last, we drove from downtown Detroit to some mall out in Southfield in like 15min. It really is not that far out for most people, and most people don't live that far south in downtown either.

That's more apologizing for an unnatural situation. That a city of 850,000 people in a rather large area of 138 square miles doesn't even have a handful of supermarkets says something, and not something positive about the health of the city. It is a big deal. We're not talking about some tiny central city, where it may be understandable for supermarkets to be largely outside of the central city. We're talking a physically large city with a abundance of underutilized land, and with suburban-like neighborhoods that could easily fit in such a usage. If it's really not such a big deal since all Detroit's drive, anyway (lol), then why is it that all but one or two supermarket chains have even been located within the boundaries of Detroit, and why can't others take the chance since everything is so similar so close to the borders?

PhillyRising
Jul 9, 2007, 12:01 PM
The thing with Detroit is, you can go on the expressway and in 10-15min be at all the big box supermarkets in the suburbs.

So really, the big stores are not going to say come into city limits, when everyone will just drive out to the burbs.

You could drive 10min within city limits, or drive 10min and be in the burbs, from many parts of Detroit. So people just cross the city limit and shop.

If the distance was really that much of a factor, then maybe stores would open. But I think at this point, so much of the Detroit pop lives near the suburban stores anyway, it really is not that big of a deal.

I know when we were in Detroit last, we drove from downtown Detroit to some mall out in Southfield in like 15min. It really is not that far out for most people, and most people don't live that far south in downtown either.


I thought you were upset about all the people going out to the Toronto suburbs to work and shop instead of Downtown Toronto? Why is it not a big deal for Detroit residents to go out to the suburbs to shop but it is when people are doing it in Toronto?

miketoronto
Jul 9, 2007, 12:34 PM
I am not saying it is good for them to go out to the suburbs. I am just stating what many chain stores must be thinking.

I did not say it was right.

But if you are some major supermarket and you know most people from Detroit will drive out to your store in Southfield in 10-15min, then you might not open a store in Detroit, because you have these sterotypes already in you about the big bad Detroit, and stuff. So you just don't open.

Was not saying it is right. But many chains probably have no issue with having their customers drive out that far. Most people in the suburbs drive that far already anyway. So it is no issue for these CEO's. That is what I am trying to get out.

J. Will
Jul 9, 2007, 3:31 PM
They can take the bus. Every person in Detroit lives less than half a mile from a bus stop. And they all have access to the three shopping malls(Northland, Eastland, Fairlane) that are located just outside the city limits.

http://detroittransithistory.info/DDOT-SystemMap2006.jpg


You think it's reasonable to expect people to have to walk up to 1/2 mile to a bus stop (and then likely 1000+ feet between the bus stop at the other end and the store itself) every time they want to go to the supermarket? No matter how you want to spin it, it sucks for the residents of the city, and they deserve better.

Jularc
Jul 9, 2007, 4:35 PM
But many chains probably have no issue with having their customers drive out that far.

Do you realise that many of the people in Detroit will prefer to drive to closer supermarkets. I am sure alot of the poor and working class in Detroit will like to drive less. If you think about it, gas prices are also a big issue for people.

MayDay
Jul 9, 2007, 5:03 PM
I'm surprised that Detroit doesn't have the equivalent of Dave's Supermarkets like we have in Cleveland. They're a local grocery chain, with eight of their thirteen locations in the city limits - several in areas that could be described as "transitional". They're around 20K sq. feet, they offer fresh produce, etc. and each store is able to offer goods pertinent to the neighborhood (i.e. the Ohio City store offers a larger section geared to the local Puerto Rican population). They have clean, well-run stores, and from most reports I've heard, they treat their help well. Because of that, they've developed a fiercely loyal following. It doesn't hurt that they're pro-active in addressing their customer base's needs:

"Developed by RTA and Dave’s Supermarkets, the program provides free trips to and from any Dave’s Market on RTA’s Community Circulators Routes. Shoppers traveling to the store on RTA and spending $15 on groceries will receive a 2-Ride Farecard."

http://www.shakersquare.net/ssm/daves.htm

hudkina
Jul 9, 2007, 5:18 PM
You think it's reasonable to expect people to have to walk up to 1/2 mile to a bus stop (and then likely 1000+ feet between the bus stop at the other end and the store itself) every time they want to go to the supermarket? No matter how you want to spin it, it sucks for the residents of the city, and they deserve better.

First of all, most people in Detroit don't live 1/2 mile from a bus stop. The people who live furthest from a bus stop are the ones that are 1/2 mile away and I would bet that most of those people who don't live right next to a bus stop own a car. The majority of people in Detroit live only a block or two from the nearest bus stop, and I would bet that the ones who don't own a car live right next to a bus stop. Secondly, most of Detroit's residents who don't own a car shop at the 155 smaller grocery stores that are located throughout the city. The 80%+ of the people who own a car probably already shopped at stores in the neighboring cities.

I live in the center of a 7.5 sq. mi. older, industrial city with a population of 20,000 and we don't have a single grocery store. I have to drive 3 miles to the next city over to buy my major groceries, but I can walk to the corner store or the dollar store if I need something small like milk or bread. I would guess that's how most of the people in Detroit do it as well. I would guess that over 3/4 of the city population lives at least 3 miles from the nearest major grocery store. (Keeping in mind that there are even grocery stores in the center of the city that just happen to be in Hamtramck/Highland Park)

Evergrey
Jul 9, 2007, 5:30 PM
Secondly, most of Detroit's residents who don't own a car shop at the 155 smaller grocery stores that are located throughout the city.

But isn't the point of this article/thread that those "155 smaller grocery stores" have limited selection, inferior (and sometimes expired) products, a dearth of fresh and healthy foods, poor sanitary conditions, and are more expensive?

How can you claim to be all-knowing about the grocery shopping experience of Detroiters when you don't even live there? There's a big difference between living in a 7.5 sq. mile 20,000-person city without a grocery store and a 138 sq. mile 850,000-person city without a grocery store.

J. Will
Jul 9, 2007, 6:06 PM
First of all, most people in Detroit don't live 1/2 mile from a bus stop.

I said "up to" 1/2 mile.

And your point about those living 1/2 mile from the bus probably owning cars reinforces the point that I made earlier. Many low income families that could save money by not owning a car are almost forced to for reasons such as a dearth of supermarkets. It's pointless to say they "own a car anyways"; of course they're going to choose to own a car if they live so far from transit.

If you're a Detroit supporter, how can you defend the status quo? The population of the city deserves better. They shouldn't have to travel several miles for such basics as food shopping. I'd especially expect someone who has to drive 3 miles just to get to a supermarket to have more compassion for the situation.

hudkina
Jul 9, 2007, 10:21 PM
Again, this is Detroit not San Francisco or New York. People in Detroit's outer neighborhoods want to own a car just as much as people in the suburbs. The people who live away from the bus stops don't own a car because they don't have easy access to transit, they own a car because that's what they think is the American Dream. Also, low-income residents can get cheap housing close to the existing grocery stores in the city or they can move to housing that is near a bus stop.

Also, I'm not saying that Detroit is grocery heaven. I'm just pointing out that the supposed "dearth" of supermarkets is a bit over exaggerated. It would be nice of there were a Meijer or two in the city, but just because there isn't any doesn't mean the people are going to starve to death or have to jump through hoops to get what they need.

Also, I'm fine with driving three miles to go to the super market. I only go two or three times a month. Everything else, I just buy at the local corner store or dollar store.

J. Will
Jul 9, 2007, 10:30 PM
Also, I'm fine with driving three miles to go to the super market.

That may be fine for you, but I'm surprised you don't have more sympathy for those who don't want to. The car thing is a circular argument, so it's not worth discussing further.

alon504
Jul 9, 2007, 11:57 PM
I live in the middle of the city and I can't even imagine going to the suburbs to go to the grocery store. I hate going to the suburbs...it's like a journey and traffic is ridiculous. My grocer is 12 blocks from my house and I love it...it's over 100,000 square feet and I can get anything I choose...the seafood and live lobster is my favorites. I also frequent the olive bar, as well as the rare cheese area and occasionally pick up the good wine. As said, I am confident that in due time good grocery shopping will return to Detroit.

LMich
Jul 10, 2007, 12:52 AM
This is really more of making the best of a terrible situation, but, hey, what else can you do?

Link (http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070707/BIZ/707070359)

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070707&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=707070359&Ref=V2Q=100&MaxW=500
Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News
Kroger cashier Mary Leone helps a customer Friday at the ex-Farmer Jack store in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Kroger in, Farmer Jack out
New stores open as venerable chain fades out

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Jennifer Youssef and Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

GROSSE POINTE WOODS -- Six former Farmer Jack grocery stores were resurrected as Kroger supermarkets Friday, as the venerable Farmer Jack chain ended more than seven decades of business in Metro Detroit this week and Kroger cemented its dominance in the local grocery market.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. is closing all 66 of its Farmer Jack locations in southeast Michigan by today and has been working with several buyers to take over stores. Cincinnati-based Kroger has purchased 20 Farmer Jack locations in all.

"I'm very happy," said Sara Sieders, as she scrutinized produce inside the gleaming 45,000-square-foot store on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods. Sieders had been to the store a few times when it was Farmer Jack, but prefers shopping at Kroger because the food "is fresher and less expensive."

"I'm a Kroger girl," she said.

In addition to the 20 Farmer Jacks that Kroger bought, 15 others, including two in the city of Detroit, were bought by independent grocers, 10 were bought by smaller grocery chains and 21 closed.

It marks the end of the Farmer Jack moniker, which had been a fixture in Metro Detroit since the mid-1960s. The company, which traces its roots to a neighborhood grocer in 1920s Detroit, was purchased by A&P in 1989. A&P announced its plans to sell the chain in April to concentrate on its northeast U.S. operations.

The other Kroger stores that opened Friday were in Northville Township, Brownstown Township, Troy, Dearborn and Hartland. Kroger will reopen six more former Farmer Jack stores on July 13 in Westland, Sterling Heights, Algonac, Roseville, Romeo and Imlay City.

The opening dates for the other eight stores Kroger is taking over still haven't been set, but company spokeswoman Meghan Glynn said those remaining locations will open after the company has connected new registers to the Kroger's network and replaced signage.

The end of Farmer Jack came as no surprise to some industry analysts.

"For all practical purposes, those stores were closed anyway," analyst David Livingston said. "Farmer Jack was doing such a low volume. The existing stores were barely even doing that -- existing."

Analysts said Farmer Jack consistently lagged other chains in Metro Detroit, including rival Kroger. Farmer Jack also suffered from the proliferation of big box discounters such as Meijer and Costco. "Farmer Jack was stuck in the past in terms of quality, merchandising and pricing," said Ken Dalto, a Farmington Hills-based retail consultant. "A&P never gave its Michigan stores the type of attention they needed to do well. Customers noticed they didn't move beyond 20 years ago."

Shoppers thankful to still have a nearby supermarket flocked to the Grosse Pointe Woods store Friday. They had been forced to buy their groceries elsewhere for a week as Kroger cleaned up the store, restocked the shelves and hung new signs.

Store manager Paul Stavale was pleased with the turnout of about 500 customers in the first four hours Friday morning.

As Kroger continues its transformation of the former Farmer Jacks, other Metro Detroit grocery operators also will be remaking locations into their own stores.

Jamal Abro, owner of Mike's Fresh Market on Gratiot just north of Seven Mile, confirmed Friday he had purchased the Farmer Jack location at Seven Mile and Livernois. He said crews will renovate most of the store, installing new fixtures, equipment and cash registers, and he plans to open within four to six weeks.

He expects the store will employ more than 30 employees.

"I'm very excited at this opportunity," Abro said. "I'm going to prove to area residents they don't have to cross Eight Mile to get good groceries."

10023
Jul 11, 2007, 11:52 PM
Are you implying that in the middle of a city of still 850,000 that there aren't enough paying customers to support supermarkets? I wish this could be so easily explained by simply economics, but it can't.

Then you're paranoid. It's economics, nothing more. There AREN'T enough customers that will pay the prices required to make the stores profitable. Grocery stores have incredibly thin profit margins and only really make money on certain products. People in poor neighborhoods can't afford to pay for the products that actually provide a profit to the grocery store operator. Also, costs of doing business are very high in Michigan because of the unions. If it wasn't for the Detroit area food workers union, there would be more grocery stores in Detroit.

To imply that there is some motivation other than a company closing or selling stores that don't generate any profits is erroneous. I worked as an analyst in the retail sector for years, so I'm quite familiar with the dynamics. Very few retail companies consider Michigan an attractive market to operate in, let alone inner city Detroit.

10023
Jul 12, 2007, 12:00 AM
I live in the middle of the city and I can't even imagine going to the suburbs to go to the grocery store. I hate going to the suburbs...it's like a journey and traffic is ridiculous. My grocer is 12 blocks from my house and I love it...it's over 100,000 square feet and I can get anything I choose...the seafood and live lobster is my favorites. I also frequent the olive bar, as well as the rare cheese area and occasionally pick up the good wine. As said, I am confident that in due time good grocery shopping will return to Detroit.
Case in point. I've got a store like this near me in New York as well. But good grocery shopping like this will only return to Detroit when there are people in Detroit who can afford live lobsters, seafood, fresh olives, rare cheeses and good wine. Right now, these people don't live in Detroit.

LMich
Jul 12, 2007, 1:03 AM
Then you're paranoid. It's economics, nothing more. There AREN'T enough customers that will pay the prices required to make the stores profitable. Grocery stores have incredibly thin profit margins and only really make money on certain products. People in poor neighborhoods can't afford to pay for the products that actually provide a profit to the grocery store operator. Also, costs of doing business are very high in Michigan because of the unions. If it wasn't for the Detroit area food workers union, there would be more grocery stores in Detroit.

To imply that there is some motivation other than a company closing or selling stores that don't generate any profits is erroneous. I worked as an analyst in the retail sector for years, so I'm quite familiar with the dynamics. Very few retail companies consider Michigan an attractive market to operate in, let alone inner city Detroit.

Your error is to keep labeling the entire city as poor. Metro areas (and cities) poorer than Detroit, and with unions, as well, contain supermarkets, and this is not to mention that even in the middle-class and wealthy areas of Detroit these markets are MIA. This is not to mention that supermarkets pull from radiuses that in many places would pull from far more than just 'poor Detroiters' even if you want to make it out the entire city is poor. That there are supermarkets literally within blocks of the border of the city pulling in Detroiters and suburbanites, alike, shows that this is not just about economics. Why are there not even supermarkets in border city neighborhoods, which are nearly indentical in every way from one side of the border to the next? You're either being naive, unthoughtful, or insincere to suggest that this boils down to nothing more than economics.

hudkina
Jul 12, 2007, 5:48 AM
Not every neighborhood in Detroit could be classified as a "poor" neighborhood.

The neighborhoods around the Detroit Golf Club, including Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, Green Acres, Palmer Park, Golf Club, University District, and Bagley District are some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the metro.

In fact, the wealthest majority-black neighborhood in any major city in the country is Palmer Woods in Detroit, where the median family income is $150,000 annually. Sherwood Forest, which is also one of the wealthest majority-black neighborhoods has a median family income of about $110,000 annually.

All seven neighborhoods (which cover about 4.5 sq. mi.) have a population of about 30,000 and the median family income is over $50,000. Yet that area doesn't have a supermarket on the Detroit side. Granted, they have a Kroger literally across 8 Mile Rd.

BTW, if you want to see what a typical street looks like in that area, you should watch this video. It is from the University District neighborhood which isn't quite as wealthy as the Palmer Woods/Sherwood Forest area but still has a nice collection of homes.

http://www.downriverdetroit.net/detroit2.wmv

10023
Jul 12, 2007, 5:49 PM
Your error is to keep labeling the entire city as poor. Metro areas (and cities) poorer than Detroit, and with unions, as well, contain supermarkets, and this is not to mention that even in the middle-class and wealthy areas of Detroit these markets are MIA. This is not to mention that supermarkets pull from radiuses that in many places would pull from far more than just 'poor Detroiters' even if you want to make it out the entire city is poor. That there are supermarkets literally within blocks of the border of the city pulling in Detroiters and suburbanites, alike, shows that this is not just about economics. Why are there not even supermarkets in border city neighborhoods, which are nearly indentical in every way from one side of the border to the next? You're either being naive, unthoughtful, or insincere to suggest that this boils down to nothing more than economics.
I've worked in investment banking focusing on retail clients. I am very familiar with the decision processes here. There is nothing more than economics. The reason that supermarkets are located a few blocks from the border of the city rather than in the city probably has to do with taxes, or some other municipal government-related issue.

I'm not making out the entire city as poor. But whatever wealthier or middle class areas exist within the city, there probably aren't enough of them to justify a presence for a national chain. Big chains don't want to operate just 5-6 locations in a given city. If they're going to do business there at all, they want dozens. Otherwise the economies of scale aren't there. You can't just put down a grocery store or 3 in the most desirable parts of Detroit proper and make it work.

Your error is to think there's some grand plan to deprive the citizens of Detroit of groceries. The fact is that retail companies grow when doing so will add economic value to their firm, and pull out of markets when doing so will add economic value to their firm. A&P, in particular, has other issues at hand, namely the fact that they're buying Pathmark, which makes running stores far from the New York area a distraction. But the simple fact is that if a neighborhood doesn't have businesses of a certain type, it's probably because the neighborhood can't support that type of business yet, or because the larger area around that neighborhood can't support enough locations of a business to make it worthwhile to the company. Period, full stop.

hudkina
Jul 12, 2007, 9:31 PM
It's not a grand scheme, but sometimes companies base their decisions on stereotypical views of the city.

For instance, Northwest Detroit has about 200,000 people in about 25 sq. mi. There are about 70,000 households, of which about 35,000 have incomes greater than $45,000 annually. There are about 1,400 middle income or above households per square mile. About 19% have incomes below $25,000 annually.

Compare that to Miami. There are 365,000 people in about 36 sq. mi. There are about 135,000 households, of which about 35,000 have incomes greater than $45,000 annually. There are about 980 middle income or above households per square mile. About 28% have incomes below $25,000 annually.

So, despite the fact that Miami has almost double the people, Northwest Detroit has the same number of households that earn $45,000 or more. The number of households that earn $25,000 or less in Miami is nearly three times that of Northwest Detroit.

And while, Detroit's crime data isn't broken down into neighborhoods, I would venture to guess that Northwest Detroit's crime rate is much lower than Miami's.

LMich
Jul 12, 2007, 11:44 PM
I'm done with this circular argument. Anything additional is a fools errand, and an excersize in futility. The only people who've gotten any play here are the rampant apologists for the situation, on one end, the rampantly naive, on the other, and then people that know little to nothing of the situation and area in both camps.

Back to some news...

It appears that someone is answering the call, here.

Link (http://www.crainsdetroit.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070712/FREE/307120012/-1/newsletter04)

Fund pushed as way to eliminate Detroit "food deserts'

By Sherri Begin

3:01 am, July 12, 2007

A new financing fund in the works could bring fresh food to areas of Detroit that are starved for it.

LaSalle Bank Midwest has committed $15,000 to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. to study how a fund could help establish more grocers and fresh-food outlets in neighborhoods where convenience-store fare makes up the bulk of residents' diets.

The fund won't be used to attract major grocery chains because they can finance their own new stores, said Rob Grossinger, senior vice president of community and sustainable development at LaSalle.

“First and foremost, the goal is to get healthy food to the people who need it,” Grossinger said. But bringing more grocers into high-need areas of Detroit has secondary benefits, as well.

“It provides jobs and a sense of home to people (which) stimulates the buying market or real estate market in the neighborhood,” Grossinger said.

The grant follows a study titled “Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Detroit,” commissioned by LaSalle and written by Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group. A similar study was done in Chicago.

It looked at “food deserts” — urban areas lacking access to grocers and fresh foods — and their connection to diet-related diseases.

During the release of the results of the Detroit study, which are available at www.lasallebank.com, LaSalle pledged the first investment in the fund — $2 million — provided the fund is pulled together before the bank changes hands.

“Once we make this commitment, whoever buys us will honor the commitment. But I can't really make it until there's something solid,” Grossinger said.

The goal of the fund is to provide below-market-rate or favorable term financing to fund a number of models to make fresh food available. Those include building new grocery stores, expanding convenience stores so that they can begin to sell fresh foods or funding locally owned fruit and vegetable sales sites.

The fund could begin with $10 million in capital, but Grossinger said he is hoping it will be closer to $20 million.

The DEGC could complete an agreement with a consultant for setting up the fund soon, said Olga Savic, the DEGC's director of strategy and external affairs.

The fund will be patterned after a one in Pennsylvania called the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. The 3-year-old fund, which started with $38 million, has financed 26 grocery stores to date with $23 million in financing, Savic said.

The financing fund ties into the DEGC's work with Social Compact, a national nonprofit it contracted with to identify market strengths and needs in Detroit.

“We were already planning to look at this issue of grocery stores and to be able to have a data-driven strategy around choosing sites for grocery stores,” Savic said.

By getting fresh food to those who don't currently have access to it, the financing fund is a good start to redesigning the current food distribution system, said Oran Hesterman, a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and president and CEO of the Fair Food Foundation in Ann Arbor.

“But what's also needed is localization,” Hesterman said, “getting production and consumption closer together.”

The issue of food delivery systems has been “under the radar for some time,” said Glenn Lapin, director of planning and development for Detroit Renaissance Inc.

“I think LaSalle has done a great job in terms of trying to bring it to more attention.

“Certainly, the concept of attracting grocery stores and food-related outlets to the city is a concept we'd support,” he said.

Sherri Begin: (313) 446-1694, sbegin@crain.com

10023
Jul 13, 2007, 4:57 AM
What camp do I fall into, LMich?

How about "experience working with grocery retail companies and significant knowledge of the decision process that resulted in the news that started this thread"? Quite a mouthful I know, but that's the facts. Hopefully local operators are more successful than A&P was in operating stores in Detroit.

hudkina
Jul 13, 2007, 5:59 AM
You do realize that the Farmer Jack stores that were in the city of Detroit weren't necessarily unprofitable. They closed just like the Farmer Jack stores in wealthier areas of the metro.

10023
Jul 13, 2007, 5:16 PM
You do realize that the Farmer Jack stores that were in the city of Detroit weren't necessarily unprofitable. They closed just like the Farmer Jack stores in wealthier areas of the metro.
Yes, I'm sure the ones that Kroger bought were profitable. The ones that were closed almost certainly weren't profitable, or they would have been bought by someone.

I have certain professional experience in this area... there's no sense in continuing to argue, but trust me on this. Regardless of what any of you may think, the stores that were closed were closed for economic reasons. No public company has any motivation to do otherwise, and Farmer Jack was a poorly performing chain in a poorly performing (economically) region.

UglymanCometh
Jul 13, 2007, 6:29 PM
I guess I lucked out... I live in Midtown Detroit and have 2 decent grocery stores within a 7 block radius (one is actually down the street from me).

But this is Midtown, the rest of the city is another story.

UglymanCometh
Jul 13, 2007, 6:36 PM
Hell, rich white people (families) "could" populate Detroit's middle class neighborhoods once again, but we all know that's not going to happen. If that happened, would Detroit all of a sudden have overwhelming access to large supermarkets? It's worth thinking about because Detroit's middle class neighborhoods are still populated by middle class people, who provide for the economic demand of this type of grocery. So, what's the difference you ask? Is it really that obvious? Is there a simple answer then? Hmm...

Thank you so much for saying what I've been thinking all along.

This smacks of "retail redlining", the same reason that Detroit can't attract big name retailers and restaurants into the city.

It's time that Detroit starts doing business with foreign companies on a grand scale. Aldi's opened up a store on Mack not too long ago. Aside from a few local businesses, I think that Detroit's comeback is going to be the result of mostly non-americans investing in the city.

LMich
Jul 14, 2007, 3:45 AM
He was hardly the only one that was trying to make that point.

hudkina
Jul 15, 2007, 6:07 AM
Grocer stocks new Detroit site

Mike's Fresh Market owner envisions an opportunity for expansion after Farmer Jack sells store on city's west side.

Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- When Farmer Jack skipped town last week, Jamal Abro stepped up.

When news broke that Detroit's last two chain grocery stores would be closing, many residents and activists feared blight might move into their neighborhoods if the storefronts remained vacant for long.

But amid the chaos of bent, empty shelves and duct-taped refrigerators in the old Farmer Jack at the corner of Seven Mile and Livernois, Abro saw opportunity.

"I'm going to make this someplace that's suitable for the community," he said earlier this week as he surveyed the store, which is in the midst of massive renovations he hopes to finish by mid-August. "We're trying to get everything done, but there's a lot to do."

In the old Farmer Jack space, Abro has ripped down shelves and is replacing every piece of refrigeration and cashier equipment.

"It must be new," said Abro, who was among independent grocery store owners who bought 15 of the 66 Farmer Jack stores that were sold or closed in Detroit and its suburbs.

Abro said he is among a large group of independent grocers in the city who take pride in serving areas that chain grocers have fled. They say that while there are some bad apples in the business, most of them run clean, customer-focused stores that are often cornerstones of their neighborhoods.

Abro, 56, is up against a number of challenges, including price competition from suburban chain stores, security issues and intense scrutiny from residents and activist groups, who are quick to publicize issues at many city grocery stores.

Not that Abro hasn't dealt with those problems before.

When Kroger closed its last store in Detroit a little over two years ago, he seized another big opportunity at Seven Mile and Gratiot. That's where he opened his popular Mike's Fresh Market, which has garnered praise from residents and community activists.

When he opened that store, he said, all eyes were on him.

"I had one of the newest, best-looking stores in the city," Abro said. "This was a chance for people to realize good food is in Detroit, and it can be in their neighborhood."

Even some of the biggest critics of independent grocers in the city have praise for Abro's store.

Pat Holland, 58, an activist at the Detroit chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has spent many years now randomly checking in on various groceries throughout the city, and even in her skeptical eyes, Mike's is among Detroit's best.

"I'm very proud of Mike's. They have my vote," Holland said. "The food in there is really good and the employees treat you like a customer, not a nuisance."

No caged area

At Abro's Seven Mile and Gratiot store, customers see security officers actively patrolling the parking lot. They can use the bathroom inside and take carts directly to their cars outside, instead of having them caged in to an area right outside the front doors.

He instructs his employees to throw products close to their expiration date, he said. Customers have easy access to fresh bakery products and full-service meat counters. And Abro takes near-obsessive pride in personally making sure the store is spotless every day.

"I run a tight ship," he said. "(My workers) know if I come in there and something isn't right, somebody's going to hear about it."

Abro knows that in many ways, he and his soon-to-be-two Mike's Fresh Markets represent a dying breed of business owner in Detroit.

"A lot of people who run businesses in this city are afraid of where they are and what they're doing and who's buying from them," he said. "You can see it when there's plexiglas up everywhere and stores won't let customers take carts to their car. I think there's a better way to deal with problems than caging people in."

Those efforts have impressed customers like Charlene McKnight, a 41-year-old eastside resident who said she was happy when Mike's Fresh Market replaced Kroger.

"That store is so much better. It's got reasonable prices," McKnight said. "Plus there's good service. They actually treat you like a human being."

You can reach Nathan Hurst at (313) 222-2300 or nhurst@detnews.com.

hudkina
Jul 15, 2007, 6:09 AM
These are pictures of the existing store:

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070714&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=707140335&Ref=V4Q=100&MaxW=250
Charlene McKnight says Mike's beats Kroger. " They actually treat you like a human being."

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20070714&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=707140335&Ref=H3Q=100&MaxW=250