Jenile Brooks has a catch phrase for her new online grocery story, Harvest Express, Food Desert Fresh.
The inspiration came when a friend of Brooks quipped that she and her Boston-Edison-based business were "Food Desert Fresh." She is now using the phrase emblazoned on a t-shirt to help raise $10,000 needed to finish renovations to a former liquor store to fresh food warehouse.
"Nothing will be more satisfying than turning former refrigeration for beers and liquor into a place to house fresh food," Brooks wrote in an email about Harvest Express
. "If this campaign is successful I'll be able to pay for the renovations it needs to pass the health inspection."
Brooks was a TV producer living in New York City and Washington, D.C., when she became fascinated with food access and urban agriculture. That led her to Detroit and the idea of starting an Internet-only grocery store for people with limited food access or just not enough time. "We consider ourselves a grocery store, just online," Brooks says.
The downtown Detroit resident met a woman who bought a large house in Boston-Edison at last year's Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. There was also an abandoned liquor store next to it that she wanted to turn into a grocery store. The synergy between their two ideas was almost instantaneous and the two started working together to launch Harvest Express from what is a largely intact and up-to-code building.
Brooks and her team of three people are using the www.TeeSpring.com
crowd-sourcing platform to raise the $10,000 to make the building ready to go and they can start selling produce, dairy, meat and bakery items by mid-summer. More information on the crowd sourcing effort here
"As soon as the renovations are done we will be ready to start delivering," Brooks says.
Source: Jenile Brooks, founder of Harvest Express
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.