Percy “Master P” Miller announced he will open a Black-owned grocery store in his hometown of New Orleans after local leaders called for a boycott of Rouses Markets last month. Miller has instead partnered with the grocery food chain in an effort to get more merchandise of Black-owned businesses inside the store.
“A lot of people are angry and upset about what’s going on, and I felt like when you have an issue, people need to get together and speak about it and talk about it,” Miller told Atlanta Black Star.
Local leaders began to boycott the store after Rouses co-owner and board member Donald Rouse Sr. attended the “Stop The Steal” rally in Washington that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection. A photo of Rouse was posted on social media at the rally that upset many people.
“You can’t say the ex-president, that’s your idol and expect us to do nothing about it. After he (Trump) has done everything he could to roll back all the gains we’ve (Black people) made in America. We just won’t stand for that,” said Dr. Michael McClanahan, Louisiana NAACP conference president.
While the Louisiana NAACP chapter said they didn’t boycott the chain, they did decide to sever ties with the company.
“We had a relationship at the state level. We saw those things, those pictures, and we immediately sent out letters saying we were severing ties with them,” added McClanahan.
Rouses Markets are located in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. They have 64 stores with roughly 6,500 employees. New Orleans native Master P says he wants to turn this negative situation into a positive for the Black community.
“I said let me give this a chance and figure out how can we economically empower our culture and our people. The only way to do that is get product in these stores and on the shelves because distribution is the hardest part. So, I asked him if he was willing to put my products into Rouses? ‘He said yes.’ I said are you willing to put other local minority-owned companies and people that look like me products in your stores and on your shelves and he said ‘yes,’” Miller said.
Miller’s brand will join other Black owned businesses in Rouses such as “Amazin’ Pickle” and “We Dat’s Seasoning.” Rouses co-owner Donald Rouse Jr. has also agreed to eventually show Miller how to open his own grocery store, P. Miller’s.
“I want to create my own grocery store brand, but it will take three to five years to do that, and they’ve [Rouses Markets] been doing this since the 1960s. They [Rouses] are working on opening new stores. I want to be around to educate myself. I don’t want to get into business to fail,” added Miller.
While McClanahan commends Master P’s efforts, he says he wants to see action from the grocery chain first. The NAACP and community organizations have been in talks with Rouses and are working on next steps.
“It is a consensus that Rouses do business with black vendors, help eliminate food deserts, support community projects, raise the minimum wage (within their stores), hire and promote more blacks in management positions, support programs that create black-owned grocery stores, adopt a company-wide diversity and inclusion program and not financially support any politician or organization that promotes white supremacy in any form. Surely this starts the healing process,” added McClanahan.
Donald Rouse Sr. said there will be changes within the grocery store chain in a January radio interview with WBOK Radio. He said they plan to start a community committee with majority African-American members on the committee.
“I’ll do anything and everything I can to improve conditions for them and just be a better person for everybody. I’ve always served African-Americans,” Donald Rouse Sr. told the radio station.
Miller said he is personally working with the grocery chain to assure other Black products are added to Rouses shelves.