With its burgeoning food scene and recent success legalizing urban farming in the city, some say that Detroit is turning into a foodie haven. But it’s still obvious that there are areas of the city that don’t have access to fresh, healthy foods.
Much of the work done in Detroit by the Whole Foods Market® team has been partnering with community organizations both big and small to identify what the community wanted in the new Whole Foods Market store that was coming to town. One of the goals: to source as many locally-produced products as possible from the Greater Detroit area. I went to work trying to find the hidden gems that I knew were in the city. At the end of it all we not only found gems, but pies, cookies, sauces, noodles, soap, coffee, tea and so much more!
We held a Local Vendor Fair and advertised that we were looking for locally-made products to stock the shelves of our new store- and the floodgates opened! There were over 70 producers that applied to meet with our buyers. The energy and excitement at the fair was amazing! Team Members and vendors alike knew that something was happening in that room, something that was adding to the culture and community spirit as product after product was reviewed and picked up. At the finish, we had close to 50 new suppliers and dozens of promising vendors for the next round, who we promised to work with to continue the momentum and energy.
On any Saturday afternoon, you can see thousands of Michiganders, Detroiters, and tourists alike wandering around the historic outdoor Eastern Market buying everything from produce to pies. Coming soon, a community commercial kitchen space will provide a home for many who want to get into the artisan food scene of this great city. Shed 5 is undergoing a renovation that will allow food entrepreneurs to rent space and kick-start their businesses (about 75 companies are already in the pipeline!). As one of the financial supports of this project, we’re excited for this development, which shows Detroit’s amazing potential.
We’re open as of June 5th and the new Whole Foods Market store in Detroit is like no other! Our team members immersed themselves in the community and asked people what they wanted. The answer we heard over and over? Affordable, healthy, fresh, locally-grown and locally-produced food. So we sourced local products, added new farms to our already long list of Michigan farms, and had a Community Health and Wellness Educator teach classes all over the city about healthy food choices. The store is meant to be an extension of the community, with design elements likes recycled car hoods as café tabletops and Motown records as register lights. Local producers’ profiles will be in the spotlight, and I’ll be there to help usher in new producers as they develop their businesses. In the end, the store’s motto summarizes our efforts and ambitions in a single phrase – Whole Foods Market Detroit: Proud To Be Here.
Will you visit the new Detroit store? What’s your favorite local product at your neighborhood Whole Foods Market?
PS: Check out the latest issue of Dark Rye – it’s a love song to the city of Detroit and the incredible food community there.