Sunday, June 22, 2008
a good well in the city: another kind of corner store
Whenever I can I stop by Goodwells on 422 W. Willis, just west of Cass Avenue. There, next to the Communist bookstore and a couple of doors from Avalon Bakery is a different sort of small neighborhood store--one that is part of building a healthy community through a thoughtful and well priced selection of wholesome foods. Started 2 years ago by Paul Willis (center in photo) and business partners James Wells and Gary Mixom, Goodwells is, as its name suggests, a good well in the city.
Appropriately situated next to Revolution Books, GoodWells is both a radical act and a great place to eat. Recognizing a need for access to better foods as well as role model for what a neighborhood business can be, GoodWells serves a small selection of excellent prepared foods (the Famous Pocket Sandwich at 3.95--a soy patty in a huge whole wheat pita pocket with sprouts, cucumber and a soy dressing--add avocado or cheese for an extra 50 cents is my favorite.) Good Wells also offers a comprehensive selection of dry grocery items in their compact space--you'll find hard to find items like coconut oil and Michigan Cherry Juice alongside dried beans--and a well-stocked small freezer with good fish and other staples. In the refrigerator are incredible juices made locally--Ginger Sun (ginger, honey and lemon) or the dark purple sorel (also with ginger and honey) fill out the West Indian fare and either make standard commercial juices seem thin and bland.
As noted in earlier posts, and plain to see from a wander in most Detroit neighborhoods, access to healthy food is a challenge. Besides corner stores, chain drugstores pop up with tax incentives since, theoretically, they sell grocery items.
Scratch the surface and you will find a selection geared towards processed cheese, high fructose drinks and chips. The legacy of poor nutrition, obesity and diabetes this food leads to has its counterpart in the pharmacy options of these same stores that offer medication to offset the effects of this diet.
Sit outside GoodWells at lunch or on a quiet Sunday and you'll see a broad cross section of the Cass Corridor neighborhood come in and out the welcoming screen door. The place and the staff are inviting, offering one of the greatest alternatives to suggest that small local businesses can provide services that depart from the patterns of high sodium/high sugar to whole grains, locally baked goods, organic produce and cheese. Plans are afoot to offer more and more opportunities for locally grown and produced foods.
If GoodWells can be the model for every neighborhood's corner store, we've got a good revolution cooking.