DETROIT (WWJ) – This week, a panel of church leaders and business owners gathered for the “Beloved Community Lunch” hosted by AFPD: The Voice of Independent Retailers, MOSES and Rainbow Coalition — to discuss the plight of the small store owner in Detroit.
Auday Arabo, President and CEO of AFPD explained why dialog between pastors and store owners is key.
“The last two major institutions left in the city of Detroit that are still functional are the Pastors and the black churches, as well as the independent store owners,” said Arabo.
Naji Batisha is a long-time store owner in Detroit, including the Indian Village Market. He talked about the financial challenges of the independent store owner.
“You know, we pay a sign fee, a compressor fee, a fire marshal fee, a building inspector fee, and by the time you total those up for an individual store, they could be thousands of dollars,” said Batisha.
Pastor Alexander Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Highland Park, heads up MOSES and Rainbow Coalition in Detroit. He said a key factor in the situation is getting Detroiters to support local businesses.
“We must make sure there’s access to capital, we must get more media attention and then Detroiters must support Detroit-based businesses,” said Bullock.
Arabo said although independent store owners are not in the limelight, most of them would do anything to help their neighbor.
“The really believe in the neighborhoods, they’ve stayed here and they do what’s right, in terms of somebody being a couple of dollars short on their bill, the owner takes care of that,” said Arabo.
Currently, there are 86 full service grocery stores in Detroit.