The first of three new grocery stores slated for development in North Flint has opened.
The ribbon cutting at Hamady Complete Food Center represents yet another sign of the city’s recovery, says Michigan Works! Executive Karen Hemphill, who headed efforts to fill more than 100 new jobs available at the store located in the Hallwood Plaza at the corner of Clio and Pierson roads.
“We are beyond thrilled,” says Hamady’s Store Manager Steve Brody.
“It’s a big day for us and an even better one for area residents,” says Jim McColgan Jr., son of the Hamady Complete Food Center founder. “People started lining up at 7 a.m. and haven’t stopped flowing in since then.”
Unlike the other two grocery ventures coming to Flint, the Hamady name is not a new one to Flint residents familiar with the grocer, which formerly operated under the Hamady Brothers banner until it closed its doors in 1991.
“I want to high five you,” says one excited resident to Eugene Pratt, the stores human resource and public relations manager. “We’re glad you are back.”
The new store, which opened its doors early due to customer demand, includes a pharmacy, deli, bakery, produce and meat sections, as well as a take-out soul food and dollar section.
“We have six aisles of items priced at $1,” says Pratt.
Discounted pricing will be the norm at the center.
Affordability is important to all Michigan families, but particularly those in Flint who are emerging from very challenging circumstances, McColgan Jr. says. We will be very competitive and well-priced.”
The store’s owner deserves applause, says Hemphill, who was thrilled to field more than 500 responses to the store’s job openings.
“Hamady is known for its sensitivity to the challenges of the marketplace and is recognized as a ‘second chance’ employer,” she says. Those individuals would be the chronically unemployed, hard-to-employ, and, most particularly, returning citizens.
“Nearly 90 percent of the store’s staff are Flint residents,” Hemphill says, pointing out more than a few would likely not be employed without that preference.
Although the Hamady opening represented a pivotal milestone in the city’s recovery, the Flint market has room for more grocers. According to a Streetsense study funded by the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce in 2016, market conditions could support two additional smaller grocery stores, each about 22,000 square feet in size.
McColgan is betting that his store will generate “three to four times the annual revenue projected by the Streetsense study,” which projected that the two smaller grocers recommended for the market each could generate sales of up to $4 million.
The study was conducted prior to the Hamady development, which was not included in the Streetsense analysis.
Several local pastors are inching forward on plans to meet pent-up demand for affordable food access.
Pastor Reginald Flynn of Foss Avenue Baptist Church estimates construction of the North Flint Food Market may begin around the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first part of 2019.
The Ruth Mott Foundation awarded North Flint Reinvestment Corp., the organization planning the market, $230,000 for a grocery store initiative in the Pierson Road corridor, according the foundation’s website. The City of Flint contributed $200,000 toward the property’s acquisition.
Pastor Patrick Sanders of New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church says he is “closer,” to being able to announce final funding support to purchase a 30,000-square foot location in North Flint.
Editor’s note: To learn more read Local grocers gain ground in Flint