Meijer, the Grand Rapids-based supermarket chain, has launched four small format stores in Michigan to date, intending to offer convenient shopping solutions in areas that simply don’t have the space for their traditional supercenters. Additionally, the stores provide positive economic impact and offer local brands big opportunities.
Located about a mile east of downtown Detroit at 1475 E. Jefferson Rivertown Market opened in 2022 and Marcus Reliford was brought in to manage it. This is seemingly a wonderful fit, and Reliford shared he is having the time of his life becoming entrenched in the community and helping raise awareness for local companies.
Reliford grew up in the city and moved to Georgia when he was 17, for college. He subsequently worked in grocery retail for fifteen years and eventually decided he wanted to move back home to give back to the community that made him who he is. He shares, “The stars aligned and the opportunity to open the store in Detroit came up. I’m so thankful to be able to work toward making an impact here in my home city.”
Meijer’s vision for the store is to connect with the community and offer fresh local products seven days a week. “We buy local with a focus on what’s available right in our community to reduce the carbon footprint and give entrepreneurs and small businesses a bigger spotlight,” said Reliford.
Meijer’s mission is to, “Enrich the lives of the communities they serve,” and that’s what Reliford aims to do every day.
“It’s important for me to understand what products the community wants and then go out and find great local vendors to provide them so the store then becomes a win/win for everyone,” said Reliford.
Just a few of the local brands he has brought in include Avalon, Ma Cohen’s Seafood Aruba Freeze Ice cream – sold in the store and via food truck on Fridays – Seven Seasons Spice, Planted Detroit salads, For Heaven’s Cakes and Hummus Goodness.
Hummus Goodness started in Rivertown and is now in Meijer Supercenters and it’s been fun to watch this great brand grow,” said Reliford. “Planted Detroit has wonderful and fresh salads they make with locally grown produce and they are right around the corner from us so that was a no-brainer.
Beyond bringing in local vendors, Reliford and Rivertown have partnered with other community entities to do good, such as U Prep Schools, where they donate food for special events, Make Food Not Waste and the Downtown Boxing Gym. “We want to do what’s right for the community as a whole and we make decisions that support this,” he said.
When asked how his experience in other cities informs what he’s doing in Detroit, he says, “My experience is vital to what I do. I’ve worked in urban, suburban, and even country markets, but Rivertown has been the most fun and rewarding for me so far,” he says. “This store is beautiful not only in and of itself but because of the people who come in every day. That’s what makes me a better manager and communicator.”
Reliford sees a bright future for Rivertown that includes growth and more community impact. “There is so much development in the area and being part of that and supporting small local businesses will continue to be rewarding and fun,” he said.
October 2nd will mark the store’s two-year anniversary, and Reliford remembers opening day saying, “There was a line outside of people waiting to get in which was thrilling. The community continues to embrace us and working to feed the community as well as have an impact has been humbling. I’m grateful.”
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