He made a pivot during the pandemic!
A Houston entrepreneur recently converted his nightclub into the city’s first Black-owned supermarket, The Black Detour reports.
Robert Thomas is the former owner of “District 1960,” a nightclub that he was forced to shut down due to the pandemic. While strategizing about his future, he decided to convert the business into a supermarket, the first recorded Black-owned supermarket in the city of Houston.
“We don’t have any Black supermarkets that I know of,” Thomas told reporters.
District Market Green Grocer officially opened its doors on Black Friday, selling a bevy of items including fruits, vegetables, eggs and vegan options. Many of the goods are Black-owned products and the store also features a number of Black vendors.
“We have Black-owned washing powder, spices and herbs, sauces...Right now, I have over 30 Black vendors,” explained Thomas.
For many of the vendors, this is the first time they were able to cement a partnership with a grocer after trying for years. One vendor, Malcolm Wilson and his wife Raven, are the owners of Daranne’s, a company that sells a variety of egg rolls. At the new grocer they feature items like their Soul Roll, featuring collard greens and smoked turkey and the Down South roll filled with oxtails, rice and cabbage. The two are excited about being in a supermarket, saying it's been a long time coming after nearly two decades in business.
“Whoa. It’s been a minute. Since we’ve been in business about 20 years,” said The Wilsons.
Sparkle Johnson, another Green Grocer vendor, is the owner of Arousing Aromas.
“We sell 100% coconut soy candles. We also have enticing essentials bath salts. We also have wax warmers, wax melts, and it’s all handmade here in Houston,” said Johnson.
Thomas has plans to expand to more products in the future, hoping to position himself as a major contender in the supermarket sector.
“Eventually it will just be products in here and no vendors, just a regular store. I want to be in the running with HEB, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s. I want to get to that level, and I’m taking the Black vendors with me,” said Thomas.
Photo Courtesy of Houston Business Journal