Green Grocer: University Commons and beyond

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's Green Grocer program exists to strengthen the over 80 independently-owned full-service grocery stores in the city of Detroit. Each week for the next several weeks, Model D will profile a selection of these stores in neighborhoods throughout the city.
This week we're focusing on North Central Detroit, in and around the Avenue of Fashion and University Commons.  

Imperial Supermarket

Imperial Supermarket is located on 8 Mile Rd. in the attractive Belmont shopping center, which is also home to a Rite Aid, T Mobile, Avenue, Payless, Dollar Tree, Motown Coney, Foot Locker, a Detroit Police Mini Station, and more. The plaza is a member of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association is a shining example of the work this organization is doing to revive and rebrand 8 Mile Rd.
Imperial is a large full-service supermarket with big, wide aisles fully stocked with all the household essentials. The brightly lit, spacious store is also in the planning process of doing some upgrades inside.  
Cheery Christmas music plays during the holiday season. The store offers a variety of customer service options once inside, including a Check 'N Go, a customer service counter with bill payment and other options, a Coin Max machine, a hot beverages machine with coffee and cocoa, and a cooler full of grab-and-go cold beverages. The large deli counter at the front also has a variety of prepared foods, including salads, deli subs and sandwiches, and homemade pizza. This counter also has all over-the-counter pharmacy and health products.
Imperial has large produce and dairy sections. The meat and seafood sections also offer plenty of options, including a wide variety of smoked breakfast meats, sausages, kielbasas, and brats; packaged deli meats apart from the fresh deli counter; smoked pork hocks, jowls, skin, tails, and neck bones; smoked turkey necks; pork maws and salt pork; split fryer chicken; chicken livers; turkey gizzards; fresh chicken quarters, split breasts, wings, drums, and thighs; variety of beef roasts, oxtails, English short ribs, tripe, sliced liver, and ground chuck of varying leanness; catfish steak and fillets; frozen shrimp, mussels, cod fillets, salmon fillets, tilapia fillets, ocean perch fillets, and swai fillets. The rest of the store is stocked with everything else you need for your household, including pet supplies, cleaning supplies, automotive supplies, kitchen utensils, party and barbecue supplies, charcoal, rock salt. There is also a cooler full of regular and ice cream cakes and pies for parties and other special occasions.
Mike's Fresh Market

Located on the fast redeveloping Avenue of Fashion, Mike's Fresh Market is a stellar example of independent grocery stores in Detroit (a second and equally impressive location is on Gratiot on the East Side).
Mike's Fresh Market is a beautiful store, with beautiful signage, endcaps, and displays throughout. Just walking inside is a pleasant experience, and the store is also fully stocked with all household essentials and high-quality products. There is also security presence outside and inside for peace of mind while you shop.
Mike's has a customer service counter for check cashing, bill payment, Western Union and other services. There is a separate section in the entryway that leads to a bottle return area with several bottle return machines, restrooms for customers, and motorized carts for those who need them. During the holidays, the store is all done up in Christmas decorations. There is a cooler full of beautiful fresh flowers in the front near the charming produce section, which is decorated with colorful patio umbrellas. The produce section is large with an extensive selection of fresh, unbruised produce and leafy greens. The store has its own in-house bakery where they make breads, pastries, and specialty cakes for all occasions. There is a fresh deli counter with a variety of deli meats and cheeses sliced to order, hot and cold prepared foods like pasta salads and whole rotisserie chicken dinners, and a nice selection of gourmet cheeses. The fresh meat and seafood selection is extensive, stocking everything from sliced pork jowl and split pigs' feet to seasoned pork chops and whole beef tongue (and everything in between).
In the dairy section you'll find a whole section of organic, soy, almond, and coconut milk. There is a large section of beer and wine with more variety than you'll find at most other stores. The store is well stocked with household supplies and other odds and ends including pet, automotive, and school supplies, even pantyhose. There is a separate counter that sells over-the-counter pharmacy items and baby formula. You can even purchase a rechargeable gift cards from a variety of national retailers at a stand near the front.
Atlas Market

Atlas Market, located on Davison, is the only full-service market near Focus: HOPE's campus, and they are working with the Green Grocer program to collaborate on some community food initiatives.
The market is smaller but attractive, with a beautiful brick exterior and an electronic sign announcing store specials to passing motorists. There is a customer service area with Western Union services, utility payment, check cashing, and lotto tickets. There is a pharmacy and a separate counter for health and beauty items and over-the-counter pharmacy items. There is a small produce section with all the basics, and a large meat selection with items like stuffed Cornish game hens and stuffed chickens, whole Amish chickens, turkey gizzards and tails, split pigs' feet and pig ears, fat back, smoked bacon ends, pork neck bones and ham hocks, beef rump roast and tripe, full slabs of pork spareribs, sausages and brats, and plenty more. The store is rounded out with all the necessary household items like pet supplies and cleaning supplies.
Banner Market

Banner Market on Schaefer Highway is a colorful market, painted in happy shades of yellow, red, and green outside, recalling the colorful markets of Southwest. The market isn't huge but the owners do have plans to expand. As it is now, they make the most of the space they have, and while the layout might not always make sense – fresh flowers, bags of charcoal, and bulk nuts are all found in the sizable produce section, which overlaps with other sections – there is certainly a clear attempt at stocking as much variety as possible to satisfy their customers and meet all of their needs. The produce section also has an old-fashioned produce scale, adding a touch of charm.
They have bottle return machines, a customer service counter for check cashing and bill payment, a lottery ticket machine, and a health and beauty counter for over-the-counter pharmacy products and other such items. The store stocks all household standards, including pet supplies, automotive and household cleaning supplies, and more. It also has a nice fresh meat selection with a variety of products, including Grobbel's corned beef brisket, numerous cuts of certified Angus beef steaks, lamb shoulder and breast, whole Amish rotisserie chickens, ham hocks and shanks, pork and turkey necks, beef liver and tripe, split pigs' feet, salt pork, turkey wings and drums, and more. 

Nicole Rupersburg is development news writer for Model D.

Photos by Marvin Shaouni
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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.