The writing is on the wall, Detroit. Photo by Jen Petersen.
I'd build my store like a loom for weaving a new local story of provisions, intertwining neighborhood development with the growth of cottage markets. I'd set up shop where small firms are springing up, spurring residential in-fill, where bus lines converge. I'd aim for a storefront at the base of a mixed-use building, within a couple blocks of an open space.
Eager to maximize commerce per square foot, I'd seek to waive parking requirements. I'd recruit urban planning students and conduct pedestrian and bike counts on all streets within a quarter mile: before work, at lunchtime and from 5-8pm. If push came to shove, I'd find a local church that might like to allow the use of their Mon-Sat empty lot, in exchange for a donation from my store. I'd commission out-of-work welders to team up with local sculptors and design a bike parking corral in a couple prominent on-street spots and interview out-of-work homeless neighbors to valet the bikes and dogs while their owners shop, in exchange for tips.
I'd line my shelves with product grown and assembled from the region. On Saturdays and Wednesdays I'd set up an Eastern Market satellite in front the store--extending market to street, offering Michigan growers a second smaller, walkable outlet for their goods. At the end of the day, I'd re-stock my produce/perishables sections with their leftovers, so they could depart in empty vehicles. I'd establish a sourcing contract with the organizers of the Rust Belt Market to curate a Michigan-made housewares and miscellanea section of the store, I'd host a monthly roving iron chef competition/dinner for small parties of restaurant investors, maybe even spin off a food business incubator.
I'd buy a couple cargo trikes and paint their holds with my store logo, then hire a couple cycling young computer programmers interested in spurring local commerce to set up our web-based "storefront," and deliver on-line purchases to households and workplaces within a 5-mile radius. I might seek contracts with local small and mid-sized businesses, offering to stock their kitchens with breakfast and healthy snack foods and cater meetings for a sliding scale membership fee.
Ye Old Butcher Shoppe has just re-opened at 3110 Woodward in Midtown, Whole Foods is soon to follow, just up the road. Which of them will better weave what beautiful, tasty and talented strands are growing in Detroit? My hope is, they'll work together. And may they inspire another triple bottom line grocer to open up Downtown.
be the city you wish to see. ask me how!