Hamtramck loses its largest supermarket, but here's why it's far from a food desert

Michael C./Yelp
Hamtramckans who’ve stopped by the Glory Market in the Town Center shopping center lately may have noticed a sign taped to its glass door, saying the supermarket was closed for renovations. Well, it looks like the closure is more permanent than suggested.

A manager at Glory’s sister store recently confirmed with us that the market will not be reopening.

So does that make Hamtramck a "food desert?"

Mayor Karen Majewski says that while two fairly large stores in town — A & C and Krown — should be able to fill in some of the gap, the city needs a good full-service grocery store. “In the most densely populated city in the state of Michigan, you would think other grocery chains would see the opportunity,” Majewski says via email.

Indeed, access to a full-service grocery store is often the hallmark when considering whether a community is a food desert, which is defined as an urban neighborhood that lacks ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. We tend to think of food deserts as being wrought with party stores and gas station mini-marts, where kids’ introduction to veggies come in the form of red from Flaming Hot Cheetos.

While Majewski's sentiments are echoed by many a Hamtramckan, the fact remains that much of the void in a nice supermarket in town is made up for by the many ethnic mom and pop shops throughout town. Haithan Sheena, a store manager from another Glory branch, said the Hamtramck outlet closed because it just couldn’t attract enough business, suggesting the big box model is simply not conducive to residents of the 2.2-mile city.
We ran an unofficial census — using Google Maps and our own recollections — to see how many of these markets are tucked into the dense neighborhoods. And then we took data from the very official U.S. Census to see if, statistically speaking, Hamtramck was indeed a food desert. We found that there are roughly 30 markets throughout the city, to serve a population of about 22,000. This leaves us with one store available per approximately every 760 residents.

Granted, many of the shops are probably barely large enough to carry just a few staples — the kind of holes in the wall where a mom sends her kid to pick up a few ingredients while she’s cooking. For those wanting a shopping cart’s full of groceries, one would have to pop into one store to the other — say, from Srodek’s for the deli meats, to New Palace for fresh-baked breads, to Al Haramain for veggies and spices. Plus, each market primarily serves a specific demographic, meaning that if you have a hankering for Wonder Bread and Golden Grahams, you might have a hard time finding it at, say, Deshi Bazar.
So the question is, how does Hamtramck play off that? How does it take its ethnically and racially diverse consumer base and bank it off the community’s walkability to make it a unique shopping destination?

What we’d like to see would be a more concerted effort among city leaders to foster a more robust pedestrian culture in Hamtramck — one in which poor, middle-class, American, immigrant, young and old walk freely to go about their business. We’ve seen success in other cities with walkable main streets, much like Joseph Campau, that get bodies in shopping districts by promoting sidewalk sales and other such events.

For now, we’ve come up with a directory of food markets throughout the city (keep in mind, as is the nature of a small business, some places open and shut before you can blink an eye so some spots may or may not still be in operation). Some are more akin to full-sized supermarkets, while others are corner store-style, while still others offer up live poultry and fish that shopkeepers will kill and prepare for you on-site.

1) A & C Supermarket, 10027 Joseph Campau, 313-871-8711
2) Alamal Groceries and Produce, 8569 Joseph Campau
3) Live Chicken (Al Amin Poultry & Fish Market), 8526 Conant, 313-921-9288
4) Al Haramain International Foods 3306 Caniff, 313-870-9748
5) Almaryah International Food, 9629 Conant, 313-872-0111
6) Alnoor Super Market, 8842 Joseph Campau, 313-875-9417
7) American European Market, 11916 Jos. Campau, 313-336-2740
8) Asian Market, 10224 Conant, 313-871-2345
9) Bengal Spices, 11645 Conant, 313-366-9760
10) Bangla Town Market, 3611 Carpenter, 313-366-0032
11) Bismillah Grocery, 3424 Caniff, 313-870-9191
12) Bishr Poultry & Food Center 12300 Conant, 313-892-1020
13) Bozek's, 3317 Caniff, 313-369-0600
14) Deshi Bazar, 12045 Conant
15) Discount Fish Market, 12195 Jos Campau, 313-365-1111
16) Euro Mini Mart, 11415 Jos Campau, 313-365-1371
17) Fresh Valley North, 10212 Joseph Campau, 313-871-6222
18) Hamtramck City Market, 8735 Joseph Campau, 313-874-3100
19) Hera Fish Market, 3011 Holbrook, 313-875-2799
20) Holbrook Market, 3201 Holbrook, 313-972-8001
21) Krown Supermarket, 5800 Caniff, 313-893-1414
22) Lumpkin Market, 8526 Lumpkin, 313-870-9551
23) Marhaba Bazar 12151 Conant, 313-369-8888
24) Meghna Grocery Store, 3301 Carpenter, 313-368-6355
25) New Al Modina Grocery, 2220 Caniff, 313-365-1980
26) Padma Grocery, 3407 Caniff, 313-826-7390
27) Polish Market, 10200 Jos Campau, 313-873-6110
28) Shahjalal Grocery, 11925 Conant
29) Srodek's, 9601 Jos. Campau, 313-871-8080
30) Stan’s Grocery, 11325 Jos Campau, 313-365-1165
31) Super-X Food Market Inc, 5637 Charles, 313-368-9489
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