New low-cost healthy grocer wants to open Detroit store

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

The former president of the upscale Trader Joe’s has opened a new kind of grocery store in Boston that aims to sell healthy fare at fast-food prices. The operators say they already have their eye on opening a store in Detroit, though they stress it’s too early to predict when or if that will happen.

The Daily Table is being hailed innovative because the grocer has been established as a nonprofit targeted to open in low- to middle-income neighborhoods. Its first store opened last summer in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

Some of the prices: Canned vegetables, two for $1. A dozen eggs for 99 cents. Potatoes are 49 cents a pound, bananas are 29 cents a pound and a box of bran cereal sells for 79 cents.

Daily Table says it keeps its costs low by collecting and selling food that other grocery stores are planning to toss out. Officials say the food usually is unsold inventory or has blemishes that have nothing to do with its quality. The food is sold at cost or with a small mark-up.

Founder and president Doug Rauch says he created the new grocery model to reduce America’s food waste and make healthy food more affordable.

Nearly a third of America’s annual food supply — 133 billion pounds — goes uneaten, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, one in six people around the country struggle to find food. In Detroit, the city has struggled for decades to attract national retailers, including major grocery chains.

But Daily Table has already set its sights on Detroit.

“Once our first store is up and running, and we are confident that the model works, we will move quickly to open other locations,” according to its website.

“We will develop an expansion strategy that will likely include one or two more stores in Boston and then, based on demographic and market factors as well as funder interest, other US cities like Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, San Francisco and Baton Rouge.”

Daily Table hopes “to have as many stores as possible in the not-too-distant future,”said Fredi Shonkoff, senior director of the grocery, in an email to The Detroit News. She added it was “premature” to talk specifics about stores outside Boston.

“Decisions will be based on funding, (we need financial support to build out each store) local food supply and community need,” Shonkoff wrote in the email.

Daily Table gets support from foundations, including the PepsiCo Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and several others. Additional support comes from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN