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Yes, there are grocery stores in Detroit.
January 26, 2011 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Yes, there are grocery stores in Detroit. The myth of a city without supermarkets is hard to kill, even faced with the evidence above. Ultimately, that myth perseveres because the mainstream media and its audience is steeped in a suburban mentality where the only grocery stores that really seem to count are those large, big-box chain stores that are the only option in so many communities these days, largely because they have put locally-owned and independent stores like the ones you find in Detroit out of business.

A rant by James Griffioen of Sweet Juniper (previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by enn (61 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad they mentioned Honeybee La Colmena. I love that place. Good chorizo.
posted by lholladay at 8:10 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A rant, indeed. I don't think I've even heard this myth but it's unsurprising that it has been peddled by the media.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:15 AM on January 26, 2011


Um. University Foods is overpriced, their produce is wilted and in various states of disrepair. And this is near the Wayne State campus and semi-gentrified Cass Corridor area. His pinpoint map includes several Detroit suburbs, such as the extremely wealthy Grosse Pointes. Honey Bee Market is good if you can make the schlep to southwest, which is something that - guess what? - not every Detroit resident can do. Ditto for many of the locations he suggests.

Anyway, yes, of course. You can buy food in Detroit. If you couldn't, then literally no one would live there. I find this article to be quite disingenuous, and written from a fairly privileged position. I don't know who this guy is, but from his description of where he lives, I'll just go ahead and assume white guy who lives in Detroit by choice - someone whose perspective lacks a certain relevance for the other 99% of the city's population. That said, I do get sick of Ann Arborites thinking they can explain all of Detroit's ills with talk about walkability and produce, so I understand where he's coming from.
posted by palindromic at 8:15 AM on January 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Nice post... thanks.... a pleasant change from the usual Detroit post.
posted by HuronBob at 8:16 AM on January 26, 2011


Also, it is fairly obvious to people who live in town that many grocery stores set up business just on the other side of 8 Mile, so to speak, to avoid paying city taxes and so on, while still being reasonably close to Detroit shoppers. Those stores still appear among the pushpins.

This rant is pissing me off more than it should. "No really! Everything is fine in Detroit with regard to equitable access to good food - just look at all these stores! I manage to access them all from my middle class neighborhood in the city!"
posted by palindromic at 8:26 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never heard anyone put forth the proposition that "there are no grocry stores in Detroit". What I have heard and read is that the national grocery chains have left Detroit.

Now, it's certainly valid to say something like "Great! I hate the national chains anyhow." But let's not pretend that there aren't serious problems in Detroit that are causing businesses to leave and/or not go there.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:28 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But let's not pretend that there aren't serious problems in Detroit that are causing businesses to leave and/or not go there.

Nobody's pretending that. Nobody's pretending that there's not an exhorbitant amount of gratuitous Detroit-bashing on mefi either.
posted by blucevalo at 8:33 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


can't say i know much about detroit these days, but i can say that spartan affiliated stores are good supermarkets that carry the wide variety of things one would expect from a national chain - they range from the ordinary to somewhat upscale in kalamazoo
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2011


That's not the pervasive myth about Detroit that needs dispelling. The pervasive myth is that Detroit is essentially cut off from external business interest and therefore only receives new investment internally from residents. In other words the new businesses that open in Detroit tend to be helmed by fed up, unemployed and under-served residents.

Obviously that's not totally true either, but this article shows where that idea comes from. Detroit doesn't have a Walmart, instead it has "Spartan Stores, associated with a regional food distributor". The nicest grocery chain is Honeybee La Colmena, "owned and operated by individuals who grew up and still live in the neighborhood where the store is located and they have created dozens of jobs for their neighbors". There's "an individual recently purchased a vacant storefront in the middle class neighborhood of Lafayette Park (where I live) and plans to open a full-service supermarket there this Spring". The rest of the produce the city consumes arrives via a net work of farmers' markets prided in local sourcing and regional self sustainability.

It's not necessarily a good or bad thing that Detroit relies so much on its residents' entrepreneurship for essential services such as groceries, and non-essentials, like that guy who graduated college only to return to Detroit, take his meager savings and open one of or perhaps the only independent movie theater in town. It's just vastly different than the rest of the U.S. People reading this from London, New York or San Francisco can't really relate to a place where 1. there aren't already a bunch of retailers vying for your paycheck, and 2. if you want a bar in your neighborhood the only way it may happen is if you take a surprisingly small amount of cash and do it yourself.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


as far as I know there have never been large national chains in Detroit; actually, I think the large "national" grocery chain itself is a relatively recent phenomenon (wal-mart); most grocery chains are still pretty regional (kroger, meijer, safeway, a&p etc.). Detroit once had several stores from the now-defunct regional chain "Farmer Jack" and after those stores closed (and were not re-opened by kroger, who purchased many of the suburban FJs). I think those closings are where this myth started.

The idea that there are "no" grocery stores in the city is largely anecdotal, though Richard Longworth recently wrote in Good Magazine that the city has no supermarkets, and "Any Detroiters who want fresh store-bought fruits and vegetables or wrapped meats have to get in their car and drive to the suburbs." This sort of thing is read and repeated and it ends up on a hundred blogs lamenting the food desert situation here. There are so-called "food deserts" in the city, but the city itself is not one big food desert as it is often portrayed in the media.

as for me being part of the privileged middle-class, what can I say? I maintain a city needs all types of people to survive. the hard-core progressives are weirdly aligned with suburban racists in terms of how unlivable they claim the entire city of Detroit is. there are huge middle class neighborhoods in Detroit (Rosedale Park) filled with people going about their everyday lives. they don't get headlines, but they are there. We are a white family with one car. But a lot of my neighbors are black and they have cars. And they drive to honeybee just like we do. Do they count? Or should we only let sympathy for the poorest and most desperate residents of Detroit control the entire narrative?
posted by sweetjuniper at 8:48 AM on January 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


When I lived in Detroit (Cass Corridor, 1997-2002) there were lots of little grocery stores - even some chains. But did I do my grocery shopping in Detroit? Honestly, not the bulk. I usually drove to a close 'burb.

I had read somewhere in the past couple years that "there weren't any chain groceries left in Detroit" and I had wondered if that was true or not.
posted by Windigo at 8:54 AM on January 26, 2011


bluecevalo:
The problem with making a genuinely non-Detroit bashing post is its impossibility. Everything must highlight the city's destruction, even as discussions are underway of how people are reversing or mitigating or resisting that destruction. To that end, I wonder what the motivation is for people to make Detroit posts. I think the only really positive use for Detroit posts is as a sort of Ozymandias reminder for other cities that haven't yet failed - don't believe your position is infallible, for we were once a city of 3 million with street cars and upward mobility and the whole shebang. Look on, ye mighty, and tremble.
posted by palindromic at 8:57 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I miss Eastern Market.
posted by Windigo at 8:58 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


When you have to sit down to write a piece asserting that there are indeed grocery stores in a specific town, then you know that that place is in deep trouble.
posted by Postroad at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nobody's pretending that there's not an exhorbitant amount of gratuitous Detroit-bashing on mefi either.

At least some of what gets called "gratuitious Detroit-bashing" isn't. Any more than describing the physical and emotional state of an abuse victim is "bashing" the victim. At least some of it is meant to call out what we do wrong in this country, and to defend Detroit's condition as being disparaging to the people who live there is to lose sight of the fact that most of what's wrong with it is not the fault of the people who live there now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:03 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Postroad: or, you have learned that the mainstream media is often full of shit.
posted by sweetjuniper at 9:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you have to sit down to write a piece asserting that there are indeed grocery stores in a specific town, then you know that that place is in deep trouble.

I disagree. I live in Oakland, and the number of armchair commentators who think they know all about this city from the stuff they read online is astounding. Any famous or infamous city seems to have plenty of people willing to tell you all about it, even if they've never lived there. People seem to enjoy dramatic blanket statements, especially if they support their views. So you find yourself pointing out the messy truth in an effort to get people to not be so knee jerk, or dispel some myths.

For what it's worth, West Oakland did have a serious issue with liquor stores being the only place to buy food- I know this because I lived there. That's changing, slowly. It's different in East Oakland, which is just as economically depressed but has many Asian and Latino immigrants who have maintained small groceries. Someone from out of town could hear about one end or the other, and think it makes sense to include the whole city in that description. It happens all the time, but it's wrong and ignorant. I;m sure the same thing happens with Detroit.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:11 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are we talking about here, don't national chains almost always set up outside of the city? Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:13 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems that the author and many people seem to be confusing two different messages from the supposed grocery store-deficit. One is an apparently accusatory message, "Detroit, thou art inferior because thou hast no grocery stores". The other is that a lack of grocery stores is symptomatic of the problems Detroit has with supporting basic infrastructure. These anecdotes about certain people being able to feed themselves only refute the first message, if that's the correct reading of the "myth" at all. The second message is merely an attempt to characterize the problem, and requires actual effort to assess. Might be true, might not, but anecdotes of "I can drive to the grocery store" don't really tell us much. Most importantly, it's important to distinguish between "detroit bashing" and efforts to understand detroit, even when the latter require saying some rather unpleasant things. Sure there are some off-base complaints about Detroit floating around, but that doesn't mean everything is exactly hunky-dory either. Pretending everything is fine is not exactly productive.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:19 AM on January 26, 2011


I've never heard anyone put forth the proposition that "there are no grocry stores in Detroit".

Funny, I hear it all the time. My wife's family and friends are mostly from the Detroit metro area and anytime we've thought about buying ourselves one of these deeply discounted mansions in Detroit, someone always throws this out there.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:20 AM on January 26, 2011


Yeah, that Longworth piece that came out a couple weeks back really needed some major pushback. Get your facts straight. While it would be nice to have more shopping options in the city, Wal-Mart is not exactly a shopping mecca. It's messy as hell. I'd prefer more Honeybees, or Mike's Fresh Market (which is what the Farmer Jack's in the Longworth article became, they never closed down, just got sold to a local grocery businessman).
posted by ofthestrait at 9:24 AM on January 26, 2011


What are we talking about here, don't national chains almost always set up outside of the city? Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

Of course. Washington, DC, for instance, has chain grocery stores that are virtually identical to the ones in the suburbs.
posted by The Lamplighter at 9:35 AM on January 26, 2011


While it would be nice to have more shopping options in the city, Wal-Mart is not exactly a shopping mecca.

I wish my city country had less Wal-Marts.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:36 AM on January 26, 2011


What are we talking about here, don't national chains almost always set up outside of the city? Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

In Canadian cities? Absolutely. Absolutely. Downtown Vancouver is LITTERED with supermarkets. Here in Calgary we often wring our hands (we inner-city dwellers) about being relatively hard-done-by because, compared to Vancouver and Toronto, we have so few supermarkets in the inner city (which in Canada is a euphemism for "in and near downtown," incidentally, with none of the race- or class-based implications that you have in the US). We "only" have two Safeways, a Co-op, a brand new Sunterra, one Community Natural Foods, a few decent Chinatown markets, and a smattering of smaller neighbourhood places within two km of the Calgary Tower. I'd venture to say that inner city Calgary has more, far more, groceries of all stripes than Detroit has in its entire boundaries. And we're supposedly starved.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:39 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll just go ahead and assume white guy who lives in Detroit by choice - someone whose perspective lacks a certain relevance for the other 99% of the city's population.

As a white person who lives in Detroit by choice, I'd like to push back against this view of most Detroit residents as being trapped in the city with nowhere else to go. I won't deny that extreme poverty is way too prevalent here, and certainly a sizable percentage of residents don't have the ability or resources to move. But most Detroit residents choose to live here in spite of the city's problems. Which are many. But that doesn't mean that anyone who chooses to live in Detroit is unable to relate to 99 percent of the population. Maybe 30-35 percent fall into the "minimal resources" category. But the majority of the city's residents are people with jobs and resources who are attached to Detroit for many reasons; viewing them as inmates in a prison is incorrect.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Man, since I moved away from Michigan, I can't get enough about Detroit. I was just up past 1:00 am last night looking up the architecture style of some houses I found on google street view (Hubbell between Curtis and Thatcher; I think they're "Michigan Bungalow").

Actually, that was kind of a neat experiment — we were watching Hardcore Pawn, which is a weird-ass show on TruTv set on the outskirts of the city (8 Mile and Southfield, if I recall correctly), and somehow they mentioned the historic Detroit Golf Club. I got curious about it, went looking for it on the map, and noticed how nice things looked in the street view. My girlfriend and I started playing around, trying to figure out how far from the Golf Club you'd have to go for things to get shitty, and the answer is surprisingly far (at least given what I remember about Detroit, and what street view shows).

Before reading this piece, I couldn't have really told you any of the supermarkets in Detroit, though the Mercado's look pretty close to what we've got here in LA (nicer than Jon's and Super King too), but really, the Eastern Market draws everybody. If you want meat or produce, especially in quantity, that's where you go, whether you're in Ann Arbor, Lansing, Port Huron… The prices are worth it, even with gas. My parents' dog came down with some weird pancreatic problem, so she needs to eat about ten pounds of chicken every day, and there's really nowhere else where my folks in Ann Arbor can get that amount for reasonable money (though sometimes they do buckle and buy it at Costco for the convenience).

One of the things I regret about my latest trip back home is not going on the Detroit tour that I wanted to — not necessarily just looking for the ruins (my ma got a photography degree from Wayne State in the early '90s, the "beautiful, crumbling building" shots have been played out for at least a decade, though it's funny to see her students turn them in every year) but for all the great architecture that's still there. There're a huge number of Arts and Crafts houses (the last big "buy local" fashion), and the American Foursquares there have a lot of really neat touches that you don't see elsewhere.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

San Francisco has multiple Safeways, Whole Foods, etc. So yeah.
posted by wildcrdj at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2011


Something to note - the "Spartan Stores" when I lived in the area included some of the best products and produce to be had. And they are not the necessarily tiny either. Busch's in Ann Arbor if I recall was a Spartan Store and kicked the pants off of any Kroger in the area as far as selection went.

I do miss Eastern Market tho.
posted by tj at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2011


as far as I know there have never been large national chains in Detroit
When I was a kid, there were Chatham, Great Scott and Bi-Lo stores in Detroit. There was still a Farmer Jack in the Bel-Air Center on Eight Mile until sometime in the late 1990s.

While it would be nice to have more shopping options in the city, Wal-Mart is not exactly a shopping mecca.
It is if your time is limited. If you've got a sick child or elderly parent at home that you can't leave with a sitter too long, it's much easier and more cost-efficient to be able to run into a WalMart and get not only your groceries but your toiletries and pharmaceutical items and even hardware.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2011


San Francisco has multiple Safeways, Whole Foods, etc. So yeah.

I guess what I am asking is do suburbanites consider those supermarkets, you might buy food for a couple days but can you stock up for a family at a Whole Foods. WallMart, Costco serve very different needs. Does detroit have the equivalent of Whole Foods?

I am honestly curious, in New York, if you want to buy say, a weeks worth of groceries for a family you might have to travel, we have plenty of local chains that always seem to lack random basic things (It took me 2 days and 6 stores to find pillsbury crescent rolls once), and gourmet shops.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:21 AM on January 26, 2011


My girlfriend and I started playing around, trying to figure out how far from the Golf Club you'd have to go for things to get shitty, and the answer is surprisingly far (at least given what I remember about Detroit, and what street view shows).

The neighborhoods north and immediately west of the Golf Club are nice, it's right next to the police station. The neighborhoods west of Livernois are in good physical shape (i.e. burned-out houses or vacant lots are semi-rare) but they are not great crime wise. If you go about a half mile south of the Golf Club, you hit Highland Park and then it gets fucked-up real fast. For instance, Hamilton Avenue, a de-facto bike freeway. Seriously, I see more people walking and biking on Hamilton than cars most of the time.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:26 AM on January 26, 2011


Of course. Washington, DC, for instance, has chain grocery stores that are virtually identical to the ones in the suburbs.

That's partially true. The Kroger by my house in the Detroit suburbs never had prostitutes in the parking lot like the Safeway by my apartment in Southeast DC. I guess the "virtually" qualifier in your description covers that, though.
posted by The World Famous at 10:27 AM on January 26, 2011


For those referring to the author in the third person, they might want to pay attention to the usernames in the thread.

Also, one of my reasons for not living in the city is that Bob Bobb hasn't turned DPS around to the point where I would want to set down roots. I do love working here but am aware that the Campus Martius area is only a small fraction of the city.

I did do a year on campus at Wayne State in '97 without a car and am jealous that the students there today have a lot more things available to them than we did.
posted by revgeorge at 11:04 AM on January 26, 2011


Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

Pittsburgh has lots of supermarkets in town or right over the border into the next borough, mostly Giant Eagles which is a regional chain but also Whole Foods and Trader Joes and a Target opens soon. There's also the Food Coop and Right-by-Nature which is a local health food supermarket.
posted by octothorpe at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2011


I guess what I am asking is do suburbanites consider those supermarkets, you might buy food for a couple days but can you stock up for a family at a Whole Foods. WallMart, Costco serve very different needs. Does detroit have the equivalent of Whole Foods?

I think whether you can stock up for a family at a Whole Foods depends on whether you can afford to do so. In any case, unequivocally, yes: San Francisco has multiple large, full-service chain supermarkets -- Lucky and Safeway as well as Whole Foods -- in the city.
posted by eugenen at 11:18 AM on January 26, 2011


Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

Seattle has a lot of them.

In terms of bulk shopping, there's a Costco in the city limits south of the stadiums, and another one just north of Seattle. For regular 'chain' grocery stores, the two big ones that I see all over are Safeway and QFC (which is owned by Kroger). In fact, competition between the two is so fierce that they're often right across the street from each other. Smaller chains are also present, namely Red Apple and Thriftway. Grocery Outlet is also making inroads. And there are countless little independent stores dotted around the city. This isn't even including the upscale stores like Whole Foods and PCC. Even where I live, which is in a dilapidated part of the city, I can get to stores easily on the bus or the Light Rail.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:29 AM on January 26, 2011


Are there any inner cities with what suburbanites consider supermarkets?

To add to the "yes" chorus, Minneapolis has a bunch. Rainbow Foods, Cub (owned by Target, massive), Kowalskis (Whole Foods-ish), Whole Foods, I think, Lunds & Byerlys, plus about a half-dozen giant grocery co-ops, which tend to attract droves of suburbanites, so, um, yeah. Obviously, the upscale ones tend to be in wealthier neighborhoods, but the two grocery stores closest to my place are in pretty working-to-lower-middle class areas. My suspicion, based off of admittedly limited experience, is that there are only a few cities where this isn't the case.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks guys.

Our whole foods must be some mutant version. Our Whole Foods is about 50% prepared foods and has more makeup than cleaning supplies. We don't have a WalMart or a Safeway (I looked up Safeway and this is what I got).
posted by Ad hominem at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2011


Most people, playing word association, hear "Detroit" and think "urban decay" or "cars". I hear it, and think "family", but tied at first runner up are "music" and "food".

Detroit is a fantastic food city. So many ethnic markets, independent supermarkets, and the glory of Eastern Market simply cannot be overstated. Unlike chain supermarkets, there are chain restaurants in Detroit, but not so many that independents get choked out. Great Middle Eastern, Greek, Mexican, and Soul Food. And it tends toward cheap. Couple this with the fact that Detroit is built on some damn fine farmland and has a robust urban ag scene... just YUM. I'm hungry now.
posted by Leta at 1:26 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Escape from Detroit
posted by adamdschneider at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2011


Fine. You have supermarkets. Do you have ED-209s yet?
posted by mikelieman at 2:30 PM on January 26, 2011


Honest question:
Why would a supermarket chain not want to open in Detroit or any other city for that matter ?

Do they fear mass shoplifting or riots or that the locals only eat take aways & don't cook ?
posted by selton at 2:44 PM on January 26, 2011


This is a good piece. But fact-checker, check thyself: Trader Joe's and Aldi are not owned by the same company, despite what the writers of the Freakonomics blog would have you believe.
posted by limeonaire at 6:45 PM on January 26, 2011


Nailed me! It's the same family, not the same company. Still. . .
posted by sweetjuniper at 7:08 PM on January 26, 2011


Does detroit have the equivalent of Whole Foods?

Whole Foods isn't a grocery store, it is an over-priced boutique.

Hint: when you are poor, you don't stock up because you can't afford it.

Trader Joe's and Aldi are not owned by the same company, despite what the writers of the Freakonomics blog would have you believe.

But you can't get much more closely related without being owned by the same company. Two brothers had a falling out and split the company. One of them owns Trader Joes. They are both called Aldi.
posted by gjc at 7:17 PM on January 26, 2011


The "inner city does not have grocery stores" meme seems to be popular with journalists.

There was an article along those lines in the St. Paul paper a while back. I live in one of that article's alleged "grocery deserts", and was really irritated by its manipulation of the facts to make the story.

The article defined "grocery store" as a non-restaurant business with a certain minimum square footage and minimum dollar volume of food sales, then set the size and dollar requirements so high that only huge suburban style stores counted.

So as far as the article was concerned, none of these existed:
* neighborhood grocery/butcher shop that's been in business 70 years
* Asian grocery with has aisles of of fresh produce and live seafood
* discount fruit & veggie market downtown
* Cooper's Foods*

I think they even excluded Aldi & Whole Foods on the basis of square footage.

Then, instead of evaluating if households lived within X miles of a grocery store, the article split the city with semi-arbitrary zone lines. So even if you had a suburban-style grocery store 2 blocks from you, if it was in a different zone, you were considered to be in a "grocery desert".

And for their leadoff hook, they chronicled the saga of a particular man with no car making a trip to Aldi, casting the fact that he had to take two buses (apartment to downtown, downtown to Aldi) as a grocery store location problem instead of a crappy public transit routing problem, and ignoring that he passed other grocery stores on that trip (presumably because he preferred to go to Aldi).


* owned by Supervalu, same parent company as Cub Foods. Target has grocery stores under the SuperTarget label. Target does not own Cub.
posted by superna at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


To add to the "yes" chorus, Minneapolis has a bunch.

Moving from Seattle to Minneapolis, the #1 glaringly obvious really annoying difference was the lack of convenient, well-stocked, reasonably priced supermarkets. Cub is only useful for canned/dry food (I've seen gross things in their produce department), while Rainbow is acceptable but often out of key items. Lunds and the coops are out of my price range. I drove to 3 different stores yesterday looking for fresh thyme....

My theory is that Seattle grocery stores can make a bundle on beer and wine sales, while stores in Minnesota (and the Midwest generally) have to live with the roughly 1% markup on food only.
posted by miyabo at 9:44 PM on January 26, 2011


Honest question:
Why would a supermarket chain not want to open in Detroit or any other city for that matter ?

Do they fear mass shoplifting or riots or that the locals only eat take aways & don't cook ?

It's primarily theft and the resulting huge insurance costs that have chased all the chains out of the city. Also, "Sometimes even the people that live in the neighborhood don't feel safe shopping in the store," said David J. Livingston, a supermarket expert from Wisconsin. "They'll drive right past that Detroit store to go to a suburban store where they feel more comfortable."
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:14 PM on January 26, 2011


"I drove to 3 different stores yesterday looking for fresh thyme...."

Dude, it's fucking Minnesota in January. You're going to have to use dried herbs or pay $6 a bunch. You're not in a rainforest anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks Oriole Adams
posted by selton at 3:36 AM on January 27, 2011


2nd what Oriole posted - just met a Detroiter yesterday who closed down two stores because they were getting robbed every 6 weeks and insurance wouldn't cover the losses.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:03 AM on January 27, 2011


owned by Supervalu, same parent company as Cub Foods. Target has grocery stores under the SuperTarget label. Target does not own Cub.

Ah. I suppose I assumed that they were owned by Target since, I think, all the Cubs I've ever seen were built adjacent to a target. My bad.

lack of convenient, well-stocked, reasonably priced supermarkets... Lunds and the coops are out of my price range.

I can't speak for Seattle, and don't really know what your price expectations are, but my experience has been that depending on which coop you're going to, you can often find low-priced, stunningly good local produce. Obviously, as someone put above, it's January in Minnesota, expectations of fresh thyme that doesn't reflect the cost of transportation from California or Mexico or wherever is not realistic.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 9:22 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's primarily theft and the resulting huge insurance costs that have chased all the chains out of the city."

That's not what it says in the article. Could you avoid getting your Birmingham on every Detroit story?
posted by klangklangston at 9:34 AM on January 27, 2011


I will say it's interesting to me to see people pining for Farmer Jacks, since I only remember those from Ypsi and Dearborn, and they were always the shittier stores compared to what was around them.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2011


Hey, be nice to Birmingham. It's Troy you should be annoyed with. Stupid Troy.
posted by The World Famous at 9:40 AM on January 27, 2011


When I was dating a Spanish chick I met at Hash Bash, she was working as an au pair in Troy.

Because she had absolutely no sense of cars, she thought my tan Acura was the same car as in Knight Rider, and used to delight in saying, "Keet, Keet, take me to Troy!"
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2011


klangklangston, I thought the word "also" in my post indicated that the linked portion pertained to a separate and different point I was making. I don't understand the Birmingham hate; I've lived here since 1999 and it's been most pleasant thus far. Prior to that I lived in Detroit (Moross and Harper) for seven years during the 1990s, and worked in the less savory areas that housed steel service centers (no one wants those plants in their back yards, after all) for many more years, beginning in 1983. I grew up in Warren just three blocks north of Eight Mile. My opinions/observations about Detroit are shaped by my years of living and working there, dealing with City Hall, etc.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:29 AM on January 27, 2011


"I thought the word "also" in my post indicated that the linked portion pertained to a separate and different point I was making."

So, the bit about theft and insurance was just unsupported conjecture. Got it. And it's unreasonable to assume that your mentioning crime was connected to the pull-quote you chose from the article about safety.

Interested parties can go through your commenting history, but nearly every comment you make about Detroit is negative and misleading to the point where they might as well have been written by L. Brooks Patterson.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on January 27, 2011


klangklangston, the article I linked to mentioned the "high cost" of doing business in Detroit; a large part of that cost is the high insurance premiums that any business within the city limits must pay. I did not pull that statistic out of thin air. Redlining is technically illegal, but it is a daily fact of life for Detroit businesses and residents. I have personal proof of that, but not the time to dig out the paperwork and scan it and post it (regarding business insurance and insurance for company trucks with a Detroit address versus - at the insurance agent's suggestion - registering the trucks at a suburban address). What exactly have I ever said about Detroit that you believe is "misleading"?

Your profile indicates that you live in California and that you previously resided in Ann Arbor. When did you live in Detroit? As I mentioned previously, my "living/working within the city limits" experience is limited to 1983-1999. Perhaps you resided there during a different time period and can provide a different perspective.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2011


Being friends with a few people who own businesses downtown, pretty much everything Oriole Adams states lines up with what I have heard from them as far as dealing with the city itself- or at least it did as of a few years ago before I moved.

Doesn't sound like an old L. Brooks rant, so much as someone that tries to do business in the city. Which actually speaks more to the core issue of the article. It's just damn hard to keep a business going in Detroit outside of downtown.
posted by tj at 2:58 PM on January 27, 2011


Dude, it's fucking Minnesota in January. You're going to have to use dried herbs or pay $6 a bunch. You're not in a rainforest anymore.

I did eventually find fresh thyme. It cost $3 and according to the package was grown in a greenhouse in Illinois.

posted by miyabo at 9:26 AM on January 29, 2011


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