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Is Whole Foods Detroit To Blame For Failure Of Local Shop?

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Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in midtown Detroit is closing its doors after just 16 months. Credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ Newsradio 950)

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in midtown Detroit is closing its doors after just 16 months. Credit: Vickie Thomas/WWJ Newsradio 950)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – They were ringing up the final sales, Friday morning, at Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe. Posted signs read, “Store Closing — 50 Percent Off.”

The store opened on Woodward Ave. in the city’s booming Midtown 16 months ago, to a lot of fanfare.

What went wrong?

General manager John Milan said, while there were a couple of contributing factors, the popular Whole Foods Market opening right around the corner took a big bite out of business.

“Final nail in the coffin, if you will, definitely was the opening of Whole Foods down the street,” Milan told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas.

“And it was just a little bit more than we could overcome, given the subsidies that have been at play on their end. It really just left the playing field uneven here, and it was too much for us to overcome here at the end,” Milan said.

Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe garnered some good reviews on Yelp, with customers praising the market for its great specialty products and local flavors.

“I really like this store,” wrote Sabrina B. Of Ferndale. “It reminds me, in a strange way, of the little mom & pop grocery stores of my youth, except a lot nicer.”

For years now, Detroit residents had complained about the lack of grocery options in the city. Detroit has struggled to replace retailers who have steadily left over the past three decades. But business and real estate in Midtown has been picking up a bit.

“Midtown is booming; it’s a beautiful thing. I live right here,” Milan said. “Still, with that being said, there’s never any guarantees that anybody’s going to knock it out of the ballpark every time.”

Larry Austin — Team Leader for Whole Foods Detroit — said he has a good relationship with management at Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe; and, as a co-businessman, he’s certainly disappointed to see them closing up.

Austin told CBS Detroit his team had been handing out fliers for Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, trying to help keep them afloat.

“Obviously, it didn’t work,” Austin said. “Local business is important to the revitalization of Detroit … No one is celebrating  (this closure).”

When Whole Foods opened last spring, then-Mayor Dave Bing welcomed the Austin, Texas-based chain.

“I’ll tell you my heart is pumping. I feel like it’s the seventh game in the playoffs,” said Bing, in June. “To see all these people out here; with the love, the with excitement, with the pride — it does so much for the city.”

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