What people in Midtown think about Whole Foods-Detroit

A man walks past the entrance of the new Whole Foods location in Midtown.

This week on the show we did an interview with Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb about the corporation's new location in Detroit’s Midtown nieghborhood. 

Midtown, like the city of Detroit, has made some gains in the recent past when it comes to attracting businesses and new residents. But the Midtown nieghborhood still struggles with deep poverty and unemployment. Around half of the residents in Midtown live in poverty and the median household income is just under $14,000 a year.  So on paper, the area is not where you would expect a high-end grocer like Whole Foods to set up shop.

But Midtown is only about a mile away from downtown Detroit, which is undergoing a transformation in terms of who lives there and what kind of housing is available. And there is a large “daytime” population in Midtown -- people who don’t live in the city but work there and commute to the suburbs. The area is home to the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University. Online mortgage lender Quicken Loans is headquartered nearby.

Detroit Medical Center is based in the Midtown area. Many people who work here commute to nearby suburban areas

So we spent some time in the neighborhood, asking all kinds of people what they thought about the Whole Foods opening on June 5.

We ran into Lisa McCarthy as she was finishing up a business deal at the Detroit Medical Center. McCarthy lives in Grosse Ile (a suburb outside of the city) and says the Whole Foods will be great a option for her when she's in the city on business:

 

Derick Williams lives in Midtown. He says the Whole Foods and other businesses in the area do not have “people like him” in mind when they set up in his neighborhood:

 

Michael Nepolian is also a resident of Midtown. He thinks Whole Foods coming to the area is great, but the people who live there will not be able to afford it:

 

For much of Detroit, there's not a lot of access to fresh food. Whole Foods’ new Detroit location is giving many people that option. But will the people who need access to healthy food most be able afford it?

Here's what other people are saying about the new Whole Foods location:

 

About the author

John Ketchum is an assistant producer for Marketplace’s wealth & poverty desk.

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