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Black Family Plans to Open Supermarket In Virginia Food Desert

A Virginia mother-and-daughter duo is planning to open a Black-owned grocery store in an area of Henrico County considered to be a food desert.

Tyra Gallagher and her mother Renee Thompson True-Hart plan to open Darrell’s Family Supermarket at 5118 Richmond Henrico Turnpike, a location True-Hart has had her eye on for years.

When she saw that the building was available for lease, she took the opportunity. The family has been bidding on the location unsuccessfully for three years.

“About a month ago, I come by here I said, ‘The grocery store is open.’ I called him and said, ‘Look now, I want this grocery store.’ He said, ‘You’re in luck,’ ” True-Hart told CBS6 News.

Renee True-Hart (left), and Tyra Gallagher (right) plan to open a Black-owned grocery store in Virginia in early 2021. Photo: Darrell’s Family Supermarket GoFundMe page (Channel 8 News D’Andre Henderson).

The location of the 35,000-square-foot space, which was previously a FoodRite, is significant because it lies on the outskirts of a food desert, where residents lack easy access to affordable, nutritious food.

“It’s something that’s very important to be able to bring healthy foods and produce to an area, Gallagher said.

The store will also sell specialty items like vegan goods and craft beer.

When the mother and daughter spoke to Richmond Times-Dispatch, the pair hoped to open the store before Christmas, and to hold a grand opening on Dec. 12. At the time, they were working on securing wholesale distributors, and looking for a refrigeration specialist.

However, updates posted to the store’s Facebook page show that the store is now expected to open “by the early part of the new year.”

In opening the store, the pair has been meant with challenges.

A GoFundMe page requesting financial support from the community in order to complete repairs and cosmetic upgrades to the location has raised more than $6,000 of the $95,000 goal.

The page also explains that the planned location for Darrell’s Family Supermarket carries importance within the family. Decades ago, when the space was occupied by Meadowood Supermarket, True-Hart and her daughter were regular patrons of the store.

“The location and name of this community market holds a tremendous amount of sentimental value to our family. Our mother worked just a couple doors down when she was a teenager. She has vivid memories of the grocery store that was there when she was a young woman. It means so much to her, to now own the very building in which she use to shop at and walk past every day to work in her younger years, pretty nostalgic,” the page reads.

Darrell’s Family Supermarket, a Black-owned grocery store, is set to open in early 2021. Photo: Darrell’s Family Supermarket/Facebook

The name of the planned store is also sentimental because it’s named after True-Hart’s brother, Darrell Thompson, who recently passed away in October.

“His kind and gentle soul knew no stranger, everyone was family. And that is how we will operate our market, we will know no strangers when you walk in our store, you will walk out family!”

Gallagher and True-Hart hope to revive the store’s important role in the Richmond community.

“To be able to be a staple to this community once again [is our goal],” Gallagher said. “They can expect a smiling face behind a mask. You can see it in our eyes.”

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