Whole Foods opens in Detroit

An interview with a Detroit resident reveals both concerns and positives about the new Whole Foods grocery store in Detroit.

Grocery store openings are usually small events without much fanfare. Contrary to the status quo, the opening of the Whole Foods grocery store in Detroit was a huge event with long lines that received national attention. This may be due to the fact that this is the first big chain grocery store to open in Detroit in many years. But the Whole Foods opening in Detroit is also controversial as the chain has a reputation for high prices with an affluent customer base. Some have voiced concerns that Whole Foods will not address the need for access to affordable food for all in Detroit.

I interviewed Maggie Kantola, who works as a Nutrition Program Instructor at Michigan State University Extension, to get a direct perspective from a Detroit resident about the Whole Foods opening in Detroit.

Kantola stated that at first she was apprehensive about Whole Foods coming to Detroit as she was concerned that the large corporation would put some of the local independent grocery stores out of business. But once she shopped there, she had many positive things to say about Whole Foods Detroit. Kantola said “It was such a pleasant experience for many different reasons. A sign that states ‘Say nice things about Detroit’ is one of the first things you see when you walk into Whole Foods Detroit.” She also praised the fact that all the produce is labeled as organic or conventionally grown and that is easy to find humanely raised meat products.

Other positives Kantola had to say about her Whole Foods shopping experiences were, “Both the staff and the people shopping there are very diverse – you see young and old people of different ethnicities. You also see lots of bulk foods including health food products such as nutritional yeast, nuts and oats.” While there are many local Michigan products at Whole Foods Detroit, Kantola would like to see more Detroit-grown produce.

When I asked if the prices at Whole Foods were comparable to other Detroit grocery stores, Kantola said that the prices are currently good and she hopes they will stay that way. She said that there are some amazingly good sales, and wants them to continue.

Overall, Kantola said that Whole Foods is a positive for Detroit. She likes to shop there because it is such a nice store to be in and has good amenities like nice outdoor seating for eating lunch and a good bike rack. “It is nice for someone like me to go there because it’s more sustainable for me to ride my bike there as opposed to driving to the suburbs to buy food that you can’t find at other stores in the city”.

Kantola is concerned that millions of dollars go outside Detroit for food and is optimistic that by providing jobs and sourcing local foods that Whole Foods Detroit might keep some of those dollars in the city.

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