At the time of this review I'm 43 years old, and I don't recall ever shopping in a black-owned grocery before, not consciously anyway. I don't recall ever hearing about a black-owned grocery store before. Sure, I've been to plenty of black-owned restaurants over the years, but never a grocery store. But here we are. We have one. I found it, and it's in the Berkley district of Norfolk, VA. This is my Berkley Supermarket review.
I discovered the Berkley Supermarket when I was searching for black-owned businesses on the Virginia Black Business Directory. To be honest, when I first saw the logo my thought was that this was probably some second-rate grocery store, that wouldn't truly be a grocery store. We couldn't possibly own a real grocery store. So I brushed the store off and moved on to other things. Unfortunately, my action and thinking was probably due to my own brainwashing.
It wasn't until some weeks later. I was feeling inspired and eager to consciously support some black-owned businesses after listening to Dr. Boyce Watkins and Dr. Claud Anderson. It was Dr. Anderson who said in his book PowerNomics that we need to support the black-owned businesses that are right here in black communities. This inspired my wife and I to make a stop at the Berkley Supermarket for the first time on our way back home to Suffolk.
We pulled into the Berkley Supermarket parking lot, and I noticed that the building looked very familiar to me. That's when my wife pointed out that this building use to be a Farm Fresh store. When we walked inside the store, I felt a strong sense of pride knowing that this grocery store was owned by a black man. This store was owned by someone who looks like me. It was a good feeling.
The first thing that stood out to me as we were shopping was the music that was playing :-). It was R&B music, and I thought to myself wow. Never In all my years of shopping in Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Walmart do I ever recall hearing R&B music playing, and now I understand why. This subtle difference in the music that was playing let me know that the Berkley Supermarket was specifically and intentionally catering to black people and these other grocery store chains were not.
Before my wife and I decided to visit the Berkley Supermarket that day, I did some research on the store. They have a YouTube video on their website that shows the store's grand opening. The owner was in the video so I knew what he looked like. So as my wife and I were shopping, it was to my surprise that the owner was actually in the store, with his son, working.
When my wife and I finished shopping we wanted to meet the owner, just to say hello, how are things going with the store, and to provide some customer feedback. We walked over, introduced ourselves, and the owner, Mike Palmer, in turn introduced himself and his son. Mike told us about some of the challenges and new features they are working on such as trying to get the prices of their products lower for their customers and trying to add a new feature that shows customers how much they saved during checkout.
As we provided our feedback, Mike had his son write down notes. With Mike having is son working with him in the store, this let me know a few things. First, Mike is instilling in is son a culture of ownership and hard work. Second, Mike gets to build a stronger relationship with his son because they are working together instead of them both working separately somewhere else. Third, this is a family black-owned business. Fourth, It's possible that Mike has a transition plan that would keep the business in his family and the black community by passing it on to his son.
As I reflect back on my experience shopping at a black-owned grocery store for the first time, I think to myself and say wow. Never have I met and had a conversation with the owner of those other grocery store chains I mentioned earlier, but I did here at Berkley. Another thing that stood out to me was that all the employees were black, the checkout lady, the stock guy, the cooks in the restaurant, the security guard, and a couple of other workers I saw in the store.. This black-owned business is not only in the black community serving black customers, but they are also providing jobs for them as well, another win.
Because of all these things, I feel obligated in finding a way to spend my money at the Berkley Supermarket that's a 20 minute drive from where I live even though there's 3 other grocery store chains that's 10 minutes from me. When I spend my money at Berkley, it feels like my spending has purpose and that I'm helping support the black community. Me trying to find a way to help support the black community is the whole purpose and reason I created this website. My goal is to help get the word out on all the black-owned businesses I've gone to in the Hampton Roads area, and to find other like minded people that will support them.