Thinking for ourselves
Support Metro Foodland
By Shea Howell
February 14, 2012
A group of Detroiters are calling upon us to show our appreciation for Metro Foodland. It is the only local grocery stores owned by an African American. For 27 years Mr. James Hooks has provided service to the community. Now, as so many people are facing tougher times, Metro Foodland is finding it hard to keep going.
The Metro Foodland Loyalty Appreciation Campaign 27 asks us to use our dollars to make a difference. They are asking us to be shop at Metro Foodland 27 times this year, to spend 27 dollars each time, and to spread the word to bring 27 other people to do the same.
All of us need to support this effort. According to Data Driven Detroit, as much as “31% of all Detroit households’ grocery bills are spent outside of the city. In retailers’ language, this is called “leakage.” This “leakage” hurts all of us, as it drains resources, jobs and energy outside the city and diminishes the power of every dollar we spend.
Detroit is often described as a “food desert.” Like most of the easy catch phrases about our city, this one isn’t quite true. We no longer have Kroger, and we never had Walmart, but Detroit has three chains currently operating in the city: Spartan Stores, Save a Lot and the international chain, Aldi. More importantly, Detroit has a strong network of small local groceries like Metro Foodland.
In a recent article responding to the food desert myth, Data Driven Detroit found 115 full-service grocery stores in Detroit and that most residents live within a mile of a local grocery.
Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market commented on the myth, saying:
“Detroit is often described as a food desert… I would argue we don’t live in a food desert; we actually live in one of best food sheds in the country. The fact that we can’t get food from our market and other places into neighborhoods is a huge indictment of our distribution systems and a huge indictment of racial equity issues, but it has nothing to do with being a food desert.”
Of course the quality of these 115 stores varies. We all know that many lack fresh produce, push out of date products and could do much better in basic cleanliness and customer service. But these are issues we can work on together if we understand that such small local stores are critical to our economy.
A recent study by the New Economics Foundation reported in Time Magazine ,” compared what happens when people buy produce at a supermarket vs. a local farmer’s market and found that twice the money stayed in the community when folks bought locally. “That means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says author and NEF researcher David Boyle.”
Additionally, the study found that buying local increases the “velocity” of money, or circulation speed. “The idea is that if currency circulates more quickly, the money passes through more hands—and more people have had the benefit of the money and what it has purchased for them. ‘If you’re buying local and not at a chain or branch store, chances are that store is not making a huge profit,’ says David Morris, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, … ‘That means more goes into input costs—supplies and upkeep, printing, advertising, paying employees—which puts that money right back in the community.’”
As we work to improve all of our local stores, we can support one that has been loyal to the community for nearly three decades. Visit Metro Foodland at 18551 Grand River Ave and show your support.