Detroit Closing Supermarkets


Detroit Closing Supermarkets

Black crime and violence once again play a role in major supermarkets closing down and leaving Detroit, Michigan. When black crime, shoplifting, violence gang activity, poverty, etc become epidemic, this causes the price of insurance to increase (the cost of insurance for businesses in the ghetto is higher). Then other smaller food and liquor stores open up in these black neighborhoods and raise the price of items they sell. Blacks have to blame themselves for this, because the major currently is black, so is the city council, and many other political and city job positions are controlled by blacks. Blacks have a lot of political power in Detroit so they can’t blame someone else.


Thursday July, 5 2007

Grocery closings hit Detroit hard

City shoppers’ choices dwindle as last big chain leaves

By Joel J. Smith and Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

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?"


  1. One of the problems with “yo people” is that they tend to sit around and wait for somebody else to do things. Grocery stores closing? Let’s sit on our ass and complain until a leader steps up or somebody helps us organize and do something about it. The noted Colleen Rogers works in a beauty shop. How many women do you think she has an opportunity to talk to on a regular basis? What could she do about this situation? Where does it begin? We have to stop pointing the finger and waiting for somebody else to help us. When will it be time to step out and help ourselves.

    We see the problem, now what’s going to be done about it? That’s the article I want to read, but knowing the news, we won’t get to read about that.

  2. chance

    @ Trenee,
    Blacks have so many internal problems that they can’t even began to solve their problems. This one of the reasons why biracial children who have one black parent should not be labeled black. Black can’t even solve their problems so why add more victims? They need to stop complaining and get up and do something, and stop looking for the government, whites, and the mulatto elite (actually these people are really a third race separate from blacks and whites), to help them out all the time. First thing would be this; I would recommend black women to stop having children out of wedlock. Blacks need to work on there social skills too. Many blacks lack soft skills, and are uncooperative there and other negative social behaviors black need to work on individually themselves. No government, white race, or mulatto elite (half whites) can help blacks with that. Somethings about blacks too are genetically based (sexual hormone percentages) and some culturally based. Blacks don’t know how to be free on there own, they disproportionally for their numbers do not allow free thinkers among their race. Often they try to fight and kill those who think free and independently of the tribe. There is nothing more frustrating that to not be allowed to express your idea and black stifle those ideas and therefore, can’t receive any new ways and ideas about how to help themselves.
    Thank you for coming by.

  3. Are you for black people? What have you done to help the cause? *raising an eyebrow*

  4. chance

    Trenee said: Are you for black people? What have you done to help the cause? *raising an eyebrow*

    My response: No I am not for black people in general; I am for humanity why should someone like me be for the black race only. I don’t even know how to be a black man in the first place. I just write about what I think is interesting and also I do sever to help certain causes. So I am doing something to help others. Like I said blacks do not as a collective allow for the free flow of ideas to be expressed among their ethnic group so therefore, it is hard to help them. They have to stop being hostile towards those people who have different Ideas and opinions that could help blacks progress. This is the first step they need to come to grips with. This starts at home and people can’t be inside of every ones home.

  5. So there’s no possible way that black people can be helped? As an educator, I know one way…

  6. Chance

    @ Trenee

    So there’s no possible way that black people can be helped? As an educator, I know one way…

    Response: Education will definitely give blacks a chance to compete I agree with your idea. Are you a teacher or some sort or do you just enjoy educating and sharing knowledge with others or both?

  7. Denise

    Now I do agree that most blacks unfortunately have a crab in the barrel mentality also, a lot of people in the black community have an issue with learned helplessness. I hear a lot of people in the black community complain about Arabs, Indians, and Koreans coming to the community and opening up businesses, well take action then. A lot of the stores in the lower income black neighborhoods are of poor quality and not to mention the poor customer service. If you go into the poor neighborhoods of other ethnic groups you will find fresh, healthy ethnic foods. As a person of African lineage I am ashamed of this data, sad but true.

  8. Chance

    @ Denise,

    This is very true, and like you said — the poor customer service is that many blacks receive from black owned business is sad. This poor customer service that many blacks give to fellow blacks has been noticed in the places where many blacks work — like the DMV (department of motor vehicles), Welfare office, department of social services, city jobs, government jobs, and private owned businesses etc this poor service makes many black sad, and not want to associate with blacks. Many blacks distance themselves from blacks because they don’t want to be bothered with all of the negativity.

    Many blacks prefer to go live and shop and receive service in areas that are predominantly white on average because the service is better. In general they are treated better too. Then some of these other people from other ethnic groups open up businesses in blacks neighborhoods, and give better service and better quality products. Now some of these business owners from other ethnic groups are nice and others are rude but in general they are better than many (not all) of the black owner businesses.

    I hope things get better and blacks must treat each other better too. Treating one better will build trust.

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