Raphael Wright’s mission to open his own grocery store started back in 2017. Wright, born and raised in the city of Detroit, grew up surrounded by the food deserts of his hometown. Like many Black urban centers across America, Detroit’s food supply lacks fresh and healthy options that are nearby and convenient for the majority of its citizens. That’s what led Wright to start Neighborhood Grocery. A grocery store that not only feeds its community but engages with it as well.
“I started the journey of opening up a grocery store in Detroit because I wanted to rebuild the neighborhood I came from,” Wright said in a recent interview. “You have to start with controlling, distributing, and growing the food that’s in the community and the people who are a part of that have to be from the community as well.”
After a long hard search for a suitable location, he came across an old 5,000 sq. ft abandoned liquor store that would end up being the ideal spot to house his vision. He had been looking for funding for a while, working with several Michigan organizations that help small business owners. But it was only until Wright came to an agreement with Detroit Economic Growth Corporation that he was able to obtain the last bit of funding he needed and begin construction on his dream project.
Neighborhood Grocery is located at 500 Manistique St in Detroit and is open 9am-9pm during their current soft opening. The store will officially have its official grand opening on November 18th of this year. Wright isn’t done building though. He plans to open a kitchen inside of his store so that those in the community can buy fresh hot healthy meals as opposed to relying on fast food for something quick to eat.
“I wanted this to be a neighborhood store.” He said when asked about the goals he has for Neighborhood Grocery. “I want people to have a say on what’s on the shelves. What they like. What they don’t like. That’s really what a grocery store is supposed to do, act as an anchor.”