grocery stores

Whole Foods vegetable aisle.
Erelster / flickr.com

When the popular organic grocer Whole Foods first opened in Midtown Detroit last year, there was loud applause that a major food seller would serve the city.

However, questions soon followed.

Why Whole Foods? Could the vast majority of Detroiters afford the upscale grocer? Whole Foods management indicated that it would work towards keeping its products affordable for low-income residents. Was is successful in executing this goal? 

Tune in to Stateside to find out the perspective of Tracie McMillan, author of the Food and Environment Reporting Network and  Slate.com piece “Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat”, on these issues and more.

User: *Grant* / flickr

The University of Michigan’s preliminary reading on September consumer confidence came in at 84.6, marking the highest level in 14 months.  

Improved outlook reflected by this estimate today could mean Americans feel more comfortable about their spending.

This fall, hiring at Kroger and Meijer are on the rise, too.

Kroger has announced it will hire 20,000 permanent positions at its supermarkets, including roughly 1,800 in Michigan.

User: kshawphoto / Flickr

As Detroit slid into poverty and eventual bankruptcy, one of the oft-repeated complaints was that Detroiters didn't have a place to shop for fresh, wholesome food. It says they had to turn to "party stores" with an emphasis on snack foods, beer and soft drinks.

But Auday Arabo says that “food desert” is a myth. He's the president and CEO of Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, which represents more than 4,000 stores in Michigan, Ohio and nearby states.

To find out where the stores are, Arabo says they actually put all the data together and made a map.

"Once we showed people what the stores looked like on the inside, it really changed a lot of hearts and minds," says Arabo.

Arabo says instead of “food desert,” it’s more of a “food access” issue, because lack of public transportation and crime are the two major challenges in Detroit.

However, Arabo says the grocers in Detroit have always been there, especially independent stores, even though they don’t market as much as the big chains do.

* Listen to the story above.

Tory.me / Creative Commons

You know Spartan Stores – Family Fair, D & W, VG’s – they’re known by different names.

This week the grocery store chain merged with Minneapolis-based grocery distributor Nash Finch. It’s a lot bigger than Spartan. It’s the largest food supplier to stores on military bases.

The new company, now known as SpartanNash, is worth more than $7 billion.

Birgit Klohs is President and CEO of The Right Place. The economic development group worked with the state to offer almost $2.75 million in grant money to keep the headquarters in Michigan.

courtesty of Metro Foodland

A big box retailer could move in and compete with the last black-owned grocery store in Detroit, according to a piece by Louis Aguilar in today's Detroit News:

The owner of Metro Foodland in northwest Detroit says he may soon face the biggest threat in his 27 years as a grocery owner. A Meijer store with a grocery, garden center and gas station is planned a mile and a half away.

"I have concerns that it could kill our business," Hooks said.

There are 83 full-line grocers in Detroit, and Metro Foodland is the last black-owned grocery in the city, said Auday Peter Arabo, president of the Associate Food and Petroleum Dealers, which represents 4,000 retailers in Michigan and Ohio.

Turning a profit is tricky for independent grocers. Aquilar reports "independent grocers have an average net profit margin of 1.08 percent before taxes, according to a 2011 survey by the National Grocers Association and FMS Solutions." Competition from a chain like Meijer could crimp those profits further. It could be a couple of years before the new Meijer store in northwest Detroit becomes a reality. The News reports that Detroit Public Schools owns property where the store would be built, but the district said late last year it plans to sell. 

"We are definitely interested in that site, no doubt about it, but at this point it's a developer-driven project," said Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi when asked about a store timeline.

 

user walmart stores / Flickr

Governor Snyder called for it last January during his first State of the State address, the law passed the legislature, and now it's in effect.

Individual price tags on each item are no longer in Michigan stores as of today.

From the Associated Press:

For the first time in decades, price tags no longer are required on most retail items in Michigan stores.

Pneedham / Flickr

All this year, Michigan Radio has been taking a weekly look at things that are working to improve the state. Today: we take a look at food and Detroit. The city has been called a “food desert,” because of its lack of grocery stores. One group has been trying to change that. Sarah Fleming is the program manager of the Green Grocer Project. It was launched a year ago by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and we asked her how it's going.

mconnors / MorgueFile

Free wine and beer samples may soon be regular features at Michigan grocery stores. A law passed last November allows businesses already licensed to sell wine and beer for take-out to apply for an additional license to distribute free samples. This includes supermarkets and party stores.

Meijer Facebook fan page

Michigan-based retail giant Meijer says it will now ship any of the items from its stores to any place in the world. Before now, customers could only get bulk items shipped to their homes.

Frank Guglielmi is a Meijer spokesman.

“There’s the customers who are familiar and predisposed towards Meijer who perhaps lived in the Midwest or Grand Rapids and have moved to other destinations and then there’s providing a good offering online for groceries for any consumer out there.”