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5 mins read

Why Are There So Few Black-Owned Grocery Stores?

The full-service supermarket that Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Bourdeaux runs in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward is clean and stocked with locally sourced produce that arrives with days to spare.

Dwayne Bourdeaux, owner Circle Food Store

The butcher cuts meat daily in the store and offers not only standard cuts, but also items that are locally popular—raccoon, pig lips, pig ears, rabbit, and so on.

Concerned about the rate of diabetes and hypertension among African-Americans—the majority of his customers—Bourdeaux not only sells healthy food, but also incentivizes it by offering $5 worth of free, fresh produce to those who spend $5 on it.

“You should serve the community, because it’s not all about making money,” says Boudreaux, an African-American in his early 40s, who lives seven minutes from the store he has worked at nearly his whole life, before taking it over from his father. “I’d sell more liquor, alcohol, cigarettes, and fried foods if I wanted to make more money.”

Dwayne Boudreaux in Circle Foods.

Dwayne Boudreaux in Circle Foods. (Photo courtesy of Hope Credit Union)

But, he continues, “to be a part of the community, you don’t take the money out of the community and not reinvest it back into it. It’s like a family—you have to nurture it, you have to provide for it, you have to look out for people. To be a part of the community, you have got to care.”

His is a rare success in Black and brown communities nationwide, but not for lack of effort. In fact, Boudreaux is one of the nation’s few remaining Black people operating full-service supermarkets.

No organizations track the number, but sources familiar with the situation and some of the remaining grocers suggest that fewer than 10 Black-owned supermarkets remain across the entire country.

And the number continues to shrink: In the past two years alone, Sterling Farms in New Orleans, Apples and Oranges in Baltimore, and several branches of Calhoun’s in Alabama have all gone out of business.

This is problematic because strong anchor businesses like grocery stores can serve as the center of neighborhood economies, recirculating local revenues through wages and nearby businesses. They can also be neighborhood hubs, where people go to buy good food as well as employment centers and sources of community pride.

Kia Patterson, owner of Compton Grocery Outlet

But where there are no grocery stores, or where they’re not enmeshed in the fabric of the community, problems arise: Grocery store ownership directly ties to larger struggles and themes like economic stability, self-determination, power, control, and racial and class stratification, says Malik Yakini.

Yakini is the director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, an organization that builds self-reliance, food security, and justice in Detroit’s Black community. When a neighborhood loses a local grocery store, he says, the African-American community essentially becomes what he describes as a “domestic colony.”

“[Black neighborhoods] are seen as a place for the more dominant economy to sell things,” Yakini says. “We’re more interested in building community, self-determination, and self-reliance. We’re interested in being more than consumers of goods that others bring to sell, and often goods that are inferior to what’s sold in the white community.

“We’re not a place to dump cheap goods,” Yakini continues. “African-American communities need to be producers of goods and stand eyeball to eyeball and shoulder to shoulder to other economic groups. Those that haven’t are subject to all sorts of abuse.”

Read the full article at Civil Eats


Related:  First Black Owned Grocery Store Franchise Opens in Compton

1 min read

Dr. Dre Donating $10 Million To Compton High School

Compton native, Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School.

Dr. Dre views a model of the performing arts complex (Compton Unified School District)

“My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve. The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

“The support that Dre has shown over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees.

“We are looking forward to blending both [Dre’s] vision and that of the district to provide opportunities for individuals to both explore and apply their creativity in the arts,” said Darin Brawley, Compton Unified superintendent.

Micah Ali, vice chairman of the CUSD Board of Education said the District is building what will be the most modern high school complex ever provided to public school students.

The center, which will offer creative resources and a 1,200-seat theater, is expected to break ground in 2020.


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson aka @thebusyafrican

2 mins read

First Black Owned Grocery Store Franchise Opens in Compton

The first Black owned grocery store franchise opened in Compton a few months ago. This “Grocery Outlet” franchise is owned and operated by 36 year old, Kia Patterson.

In March of 2013, the USDA officially labeled Compton as a food desert. Residents have not had adequate access to essential dietary foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Over a year ago, the Grocery Outlet building was home to another grocery store chain which closed and left Compton residents with one less place to find food for balanced meals.

Now residents can get organic products and other items for up to 60 percent off compared to brand-name items that can be found in traditional grocery stores.

The store is also creating jobs for locals, including members of Kia’s family.

So far, reviews from customers have been very positive:

Amber M: “Hands down the BEST deal you will find on great wines from all over the world….

I met the owner, Kia, while I was there and she was super friendly and make some great recommendations. The prices are seriously amazing. They have a great selection.

I don’t live anywhere near Compton, so I understand if you think it’s a crazy trip, but if you’re even remotely in the area it’s seriously worth stopping by. You’ll be in wine heaven. Cheers!”

Sunny G: “Lots of great things about this market: Many organic options at low prices.
Niche items, Friendly staff. Local beers and wines. Clean and bright. Delightful owner who seems to be hiring locally.”


Grocery Outlet is located at 2175 West Rosecrans Avenue in the city of Compton and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Huge congrats to Kia! If you are anywhere near her store, please go and show your support! Tell your friends and family in the California area also.


Check out this Facebook video of a tour of the store and a brief interview with Kia.


by Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson