Detroit, Black-Run Grocery Co-Op

Detroit Welcomes Black-Run Grocery Co-Op After 14 Years In The Making

Invest in the culture!

A Black-run, full-scale grocery store has finally opened to serve Detroit’s North End.

Detroit People’s Food Co-Op opened its doors for the first time on May 1 after years of preparation. With the goal of providing quality grocery options to a predominantly Black city, the Co-Op is a special novelty as anyone can be an owner by becoming a member. 

As of the opening, the location had over 2,740 members.

Facilitated by the Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty Network (DBCFSN), the 15,000-square-foot supermarket’s shelves are stocked with fresh and local products, including produce from four Black-owned farms and herbs, spices, condiments, meat, and dairy products. There are also vegan options, baked goods, canned and packaged items, snacks, drinks, and health and wellness items. 

While members must be at least 21 years old, lifetime memberships cost $200. Shoppers can also indulge in food samples, a deli, and a coffee bar. 

Lanay Gilbert-Williams, president of the co-op’s board of directors, boasted about the store’s opening, being completely different from major grocery retailers like Kroger. ​​“This is not something you’re invited to. It’s literally yours,” Gilbert-Williams said. 

“There is no rich person in the shadows. People can’t imagine such a heaven where all types of people have come together to do a thing and take ownership of a thing. It belongs to the entire community.”

The Motor City has been improving access to sustainable food for several years. According to a 2022 report from the Detroit Food Policy Council, emergency food resources started to boom in 2022 when popular food pantries were forced to close and new sites opened to meet the increasing demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Black-owned grocery stores have been scarce for close to 10 years as almost 70% of residents are labeled as “food insecure,” lacking reliable access to food. 

Now, things have changed. Shoppers took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to post videos of the gorgeous establishment on its opening day, including one woman whose product was seen on the shelves. 

Actor and author Hill Harper, who is running for U.S. Senate for Michigan, also stopped by to talk to potential voters and celebrate the co-op’s success. “When you invest, good things happen. Invest in communities,” Harper said. 

“There hasn’t been real fresh produce anywhere around here for years. Investment works. Investing in people works.” 

The project was listed in the Detroit Free Press as one of 10 new developments people should get excited about in 2024. DBCFSN executive director Malik Yakini said opening day feels good, but there is much more to do. “It feels great to finally be open, but we’re at the finish line and at the starting line also,” he said. 

“Now, we have to run a successful grocery store, and so we’re appealing to our community to shop on a regular basis. It’s good to have opening-day excitement, but we need that excitement translated into regular sales for the store to be sustainable.” 

The official grand opening celebration, which will include “speakers, live bands, children’s activities, workshops,” will be held on May 18.