By the time Whole Foods opens up in Detroit in 2013, it will have some competition in the form of upcoming online grocery store, Harvest Express.
Harvest Express, the brain child of Detroit native Jenile Brooks, is her attempt to bring fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods to a city without access to these items. Detroit has become known as a “food desert” and she hopes to change that.
The grocery store’s warehouse will operate out of a formerly abandoned liquor store, symbolic of Detroit’s ongoing transformation. Harvest Express will be web-based, delivering to businesses and homes in Detroit. She plans to focus on Michigan-grown food with produce and packaged goods first. After that she plans to add meat, dairy, seafood, bread, and household items.
Brooks was accepted into the funding-and-mentoring program of 100 Urban Entrepreneurs. The non-proft offers startup grants as well as business mentoring nationwide. In addition to the money received from the program, she and three others are selling t-shirts, here at teespring.com to raise $10,000 to finish the warehouse.
Through the store, Brooks also hopes to help fuel Michigan’s economy. “If every family in Michigan spent just $10 a week on Michigan-made food products, $37 million would be invested back into the economy each week,” said Brooks. She continues on to say that an organization called Social Compact reported that “Detroit loses around $200 million a year from citizens shopping [outside] the city for groceries, and that the city could support another 583,000 square feet of grocery stores.”
She graduated from Howard University in 2003 and worked in New York in broadcasting and film, but felt compelled to return to Detroit to help her hometown. She “couldn’t be happier” with the positive reception of her online grocery store and is eager to give back to her city.
“Detroiters are resilient, and deeply committed to the city,” said Brooks, ”A lot of what’s working is the result of community-led movements and collaborations between existing organizations and new young energy.”
Source: 100 Urban Entrepreneurs