East Columbus Gets City’s First Black-Owned Grocery in Over a Decade
After a summer of social unrest and revitalized calls to Buy Black, community members began to request something missing from the local business community — a Black-owned grocery store.
It’s reportedly the first Black-owned grocery store in Columbus since the Mt. Vernon Plaza Supermarket, managed by Rick Singletary, and the Carl Brown IGA, the latter of which was the city’s first and closed in 2007.
Over a dozen investors, many of whom were strangers, eventually came together to purchase The Culture Market, at 2915 E. Fifth Ave., in a fairly short turnaround.
“From the time that the idea came to us until the time that we signed the final purchase agreement was seven weeks and six days,” said business developer, financier, and Minding My Black-Owned Business founder Shaundretta House Boykins.
Aside from a handful of carryouts and convenience stores, the market is in an area with fairly limited access to supermarkets and labeled a “deepening poverty” neighborhood by the Economic Innovation Group’s Neighborhood Poverty Project.
“We are bringing that to [this community],” said Boykins. “A lot of them don’t have transportation, so this is a place that they could walk to or get a ride close by.”
The grocery store also has money services such as Western Union check cashing.
Juana Williams, founder of J’s Sweet Treats and Wedding Cakes and another co-investor for The Culture Market, called the area a pharmaceutical desert as well. Soon, and no later than the New Year, the market will have a small pharmacy for community members to access.
“There’s a lot of elderly people in this area who have health issues and…have to pay to have transportation to take them to go and pick up their prescription,” said Williams. “So being able to solve that issue is something that’s on the horizon for us.”
The investors have also created the Culture Market Foundation, a nonprofit that will create jobs and train employees within the community with funding from donations and upcoming crowdfunding campaigns.
Williams said though the investors started off as strangers, what made this investment possible was their likemindedness — in both empowering their community and changing the narrative regarding how Black folks work together.
“We want this to serve as an example of what’s possible, especially for our community and for our culture,” said co-investor Pastor Michael Young of City of Grace Church. “To me, the beautiful thing is this wasn’t about one, two, or even a few individuals, 18 Black investors coming together for something that’s bigger than all of us individually. So prayerfully, this will inspire others within our community and our culture to come together.”
This article has been updated since publishing to include the Mt. Vernon Plaza Supermarket, another Black-owned grocery store that preceded the Culture Market.