North End neighborhood of Detroit now has a new option to buy groceries - the Detroit People’s Food Co-op

Posted at 5:06 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 00:37:29-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The North End neighborhood of Detroit now has a new grocery store. But it’s not your everyday supermarket. It’s a co-operative, owned by the community, for the community.

VIDEO: Take a walk around Detroit People's Food Co-Op

VIDEO: Take a walk around Detroit People's Food Co-Op

I got the chance to learn just what its opening today means to the people who live nearby.

The Detroit People’s Food Co-op is officially open. It means the world to the people who live nearby and beyond. And as I am learning, it’s a dream that’s been 14 years in the making.

Shirley Davis told me she only had to walk down the alley to get to the co-op.

“After 14 years, can you believe this day has arrived?” I commented.

“Don’t make me cry. Don’t make me cry. I am so happy. I’ve been waiting on this forever. You just don’t know. Woo,” said Shirley Davis, who lives near the new co-op.

She explained to me that 20 years ago another grocery store had burned down, and the neighborhood was left with only two options; the gas station or the local dollar store.

“I’m a religious person and I’m ready to shout and just do a Holy Ghost dance. Because I am so happy,” said Shirley.

She said... finally, they’re servicing the people in their community.

“We’re doing a lot of things over here on the North End. And people need to come over here and see what we’re doing,” said Gabrielle Davis.

Gabrielle Davis works for the co-op.

“I’m lucky in my life outside Detroit People’s Food Co-op. I get to work with a number of other food co-ops. Oftentimes they talk about how slow membership grows sometimes. But to see it grow so fast since opening, and in just less than a day, it’s absolutely exceptional,” said Gabrielle Davis, Detroit People’s Food Co-Op Board Treasurer.

The goal is to get 3,000 members and they’ve already gained over 100 in just one day.

“What do you think that says about the community?” I asked.

“That the community really, truly believes it’s for them. It’s not oftentimes you see things open this way, open and truly community-based,” said Malik Yakini.

Malik Yakini, is the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty Network, the Co-owners, and developers of the Detroit People’s Food Co-op.

“Tell me about what this day means to you,” I asked.

“Well, it’s kind of the culmination of 14 years of work. We started working on this in 2010. And so, to be at opening day is a tremendous milestone,” said Malik Yakini, Exec. Dir. Detroit Black Community Food Sovereignty Network.

He says the ownership is composed of nearly 3,000 people of all backgrounds.

“But this is black lead. It is unapologetically focused on uplifting the black community and trying to stop the extractive economy that we have in the food realm in the city of Detroit,” said Yakini. “What we’re really trying to do is create a circular economy so that the money that we spend on groceries is circulating within our community to create jobs, ownership, and empowerment.”

I also ran into Melanie McElroy whose family farm in Hillsdale supplies the beef being sold at the co-op.

“We have been a family farm for a very long time. My family actually originated in Detroit. I live in Detroit, and it’s been so exciting as a member of the community to see these 15 yearlong visions actually come to life,” said Melanie McElroy, selling beef at the Co-op.

She says this is the first time they’ve ever sold at a grocery store.

"Tell me about being here on the first day that they’re open," I asked.

“Oh, it was very emotional for me. I am a community organizer by trade. And so just seeing folks come together, to show that things can be born out of community and owned by community and really have a people-first focus is so important to us.”
So, as you can see there, they are so close to hitting their goal of 3 thousand members and anyone living in Michigan can join.

It’s $200 for a lifetime membership.

More info here: Detroit Peoples Food Co-op