After two years sitting vacant, an East St. Louis market will reopen in April under new ownership as a full-service grocery store.
Located at 1005 N. 15th St., Neighbors' Market will have a meat counter, deli and fresh produce department.
Co-owners Sterling Moody and businessman Charles Bussey are working on opening this store and one other store, both scheduled to open in East St. Louis in 2018.
Neighbors' Market, which is on the ground floor of a senior housing development, will be the first one to open.
“It’s a total grocery store,” Moody said. “Just on a smaller scale.”
The black-owned grocery store is one of only a few in the country, Moody touted. When Neighbors' opens, he will become the 39th black independent grocer in the country, he said.
While the staff is diverse, Moody has placed two African-American women in top positions at the store.
“I’m recruiting top-quality people to be a part of this organization,” Moody said. “As we grow to three to five stores.”
Evelyn Fluellen, a local catering company owner with more than 10 years of grocery experience at ALDI, is the store’s assistant manager. She's also run the deli department.
An African-American millennial, Daneitria Williams, will run the produce department.
Williams envisions fresh greens, carrots, tomatoes, squash and other staples on the shelves. She wants the prices to be fair and competitive when compared to other stores in the area.
"I'm ready to get going," Williams said Tuesday, standing in the middle of her department at Neighbors' Market.
She grows a garden at home and wants to teach local residents more about healthy meal options.
Government funding for food deserts will pay for the store, Moody said.
He’s experienced financial woes in the past, according the Southern Illinoisan, but Moody is confident this effort will be a success in East St. Louis, where he said more fresh produce markets are needed.
A meat department run by Justin McGrew, a longtime butcher, will offer fresh-cut bacon, meat and items that are seasoned and stuffed.
The market on North 15th Street is one of two projects Moody and Bussey are overseeing in the city. Their second enterprise is the Harvest Market Project at Ninth Street and Missouri Avenue.
That project, which is much larger than Neighbors' Market, is expected to be completed later this year, Moody said.
For now, he’s focused on opening Neighbors’ Market in the next few weeks.
The previous owners, who operated under the name Jazz Market, weren’t able to keep the market open, but Moody hopes his 40 years in the grocery business will make a difference this time. He wants to cater to the senior residents who live in the units above the market.
The market also wants to serve MetroLink commuters looking for a grab-and-go meal or snack.
Neighbors' Market will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
“Our people need to have special attention, for one,” Moody said. “Number two, good food and produce for healthy eating.”
Cara Antony: 618-239-2471, @CaraRAnthony