DETROIT (WWJ) – For years, residents have complained about a lack of grocery options in Detroit. The hope is that will change with the grand opening of the city’s first Whole Foods Market.
They broke bread instead of cutting a ribbon at a spirited ceremony on Wednesday outside the store on Mack Ave. at John R. in Midtown.
WWJ CityBeat reporter Vickie Thomas spoke with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who was on hand, and all smiles.
“I’ll tell you my heart is pumping. I feel like it’s the seventh game in the playoffs,” said Bing. “To see all these people out here; with the love, the with excitement, with the pride — it does so much for the city.”
“I’d have to say, without a doubt, it’s probably the best day … because the community is involved,” the mayor said.
The throngs of people who showed up for the parking lot party — which was more like a taste fest — went from tent to tent sampling some of the Michigan-made products inside.
Meantime, the line to enter the 20,000-square-foot upscale supermarket snaked around the building.
Once they got inside, customers seemed to like what they saw.
Running down the list of her purchases, Detroiter Tonya Calhoun said the prices were right for her.
“I have some cherries, watermelon … I have a bottle of John Salley vegan wine, and I have some honey-ginger salmon sauce for my salmon,” she said.
Employees — hired from a reported thousand people who applied — are just as excited as the customers.
“Oh, yes, I gotta be pumped, very pumped, because, back in receiving —we’re the first ones to get the products,” said LaShawn Garret, a receiver at the new store. “And if we ain’t pumping it up when it goes through the door, than it’s not gonna keep going. So we gotta pump it up from the get-go.”
The opening comes as Detroit has struggled to replace retailers who have steadily left the city over the past three decades.
Whole Foods has five other supermarkets in Michigan.
RAW VIDEO BY VICKIE THOMAS:
Above: Opening ceremony crowd. Below: A heckler boos Dave Bing.
The Detroit grand opening event continues until 6 p.m.