Yes, a Whole Foods would be good for midtown

July 19, 2011

food barEverybody’s falling all over themselves with the announcement that Whole Foods is, indeed, coming to midtown Detroit. Or, at least, talks are progressing toward that end, and land parcels are being discussed.

I’d be lying if I wasn’t excited about the store coming to town. I’m a big proponent of grocery stores within the city — and yes, they do exist. I do a lot of shopping at Honey Bee Market in Mexicantown, and you can’t overlook Eastern Market for your veggie fix, especially now that they are also open Tuesdays. But, to be honest, I find that while other stores in the city have decent non-perishable pantry items, the produce and meat counter is a little lacking. In fact, there’s one not far from my condo, rhymes with Spooniversity Foods, that is great for popping in to get ice cream, although I wouldn’t buy lettuce there.

I mourned the loss of Zaccaro’s Market, even if they were a bit overpriced, and the Sunflower Market that never came about. Of course, there are places like Kim’s Produce and Goodwells, but those places are more like shops than a real, honest-to-goodness grocery store. Since I work in Royal Oak, I find myself popping into the Troy Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Westborn Market on the way home, depending on what I need.

But, I don’t buy the argument that midtown doesn’t need another grocery store. Yes, it does. In order for a community to thrive, there has to be plenty of the businesses that people need on a day-to-day basis, and grocery stores are one type of that business. Midtown doesn’t have everything it needs yet — where is the ice cream store??? — but it’s getting there. Go to any other thriving neighborhood and there are stores on every block. Maybe we don’t need that many, but more certainly isn’t going to hurt. Plus, if some competition moves in, maybe that will encourage the existing stores to up their game.

Plus, you can’t beat a Whole Foods hot bar for those nights when you don’t want to cook but don’t want to go out to eat. That in itself should get the community’s support.

What do you think? What do you think about the location? My husband thinks the publicity is a conspiracy to secure another location in midtown, so I don’t want to say anything. Would you shop there?

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  • Calm tom

    As much as many people WANT a whole foods, I suspect the store will be a disaster.  The suburban grocery store makes its money on soccer moms with families.  Single folks with their $50 weekly purchases don’t stack up to us breeders with our $300 plus tallies.  Sure, you might buy a chicken breast at the hot bar, but my household doesn’t stop eating until two whole chickens are put away and my kids are still young. 

    I’ve seen the demographic data as well, Midtown has an income/acre of $275k, but I live near the Troy Whole Foods and I suspect that the income per acre around here is north of a $1M.  Also, the whole foods is only attractive to the wealthiest people.  It is super-expensive! 

    I know people don’t like to bash Detroit, but I think a large group of people have their political correct hats on right now.  The problem is, these same people won’t open their wallets after the store opens.  I think that Whole Foods will pull out after about 2 years and the store will never, ever make a profit. 

  • bascombe2

    Yeah, it’s hard for me to see a big downside here. A Whole Foods store doesn’t solve the city’s grocery availability problems, and it’s a problematic company in many ways…but it certainly can’t worsen Detroit’s situation. And as for the store losing money, it’s definitely possible. But it also possible that the corporation will be willing to lose (some) money at this location at first in order to boost its overall profile/reputation as an urban presence.