Gentrification? High-end retail to replace Cass Corridor’s only grocery store

Second Ave

Tomboy Market, a small grocery store that has served the Cass Corridor’s lower-income residents for years, closed Thursday and will be replaced with high-end retail, according to Curbed Detroit.

“You got to be kidding me,” Shirley Warwick said when she saw the “closed” signs on the door. “What now? Where am I supposed to get my food?”

The closest grocery store is now Whole Foods, which Warwick said she can’t afford.

The Cass Corridor and Midtown, where the highest concentration of the city’s homeless and mentally ill population lives, are undergoing a rapid transformation. New condos are being built. Restaurants, bars and even a high-end barber shop are opening.

Midtown Inc. confirmed that high-end retail will replace Tomboy Market, which won’t be missed by everyone.

The store has been accused of selling expired meat and always had an acrid smell.

It’s unclear how much the owners received in the sale. They were asking $650,000 in December 2013.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Joe Doomzday

    I used to cop heroin at the meat counter at TomBoy. The place had rats running around in the aisles if you kicked the base of the vegetable stand along the wall.

  • Clifford Forester

    These are some strange arguments. I always considered Tom Boy on par with Marcus Market more so than a full service grocer. They didn’t have any decent fresh food that I ever saw but their prices were equitable for dry and canned goods. And as someone closer to the invading gentrifies than a neighborhood native, I was more than willing to go there to buy that kind of stuff.

    • Clifford Forester

      That being said, holy hell do I wish a decent low or mid end grocer would open in the southern end of midtown. I can’t afford anywhere that I can walk to now that Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe is gone and even that was stretching the budget for me in some ways.

  • Thomas Knodell

    THANK YOU for not saying it’s a place for “bums, beggars, hookers, drug dealers” in your article. It’s a LOW INCOME GROCERY STORE. The author at Curbed should be ashamed. The people hanging out outside are poor people being eradicated from the neighborhood, not criminals. I walk by that store every day on my way to work and I have never seen anything shady. Just the actual residents of the cass corridor. At least people can still walk up to University Foods instead of spending an arm and a leg at Whole Foods.

    But just what we need…another “boutique” selling unnecessary crap that no Detroiter can afford to buy.

    • CakeinBedWithYou

      Living a block and a half south of this now defuct store, I can say with authority that there were absolutely several homeless people, pimps, and prostitutes hanging around asking for change, or if I wanted to buy a Bridge card Daily.
      They never hurt me, nor did they really bother me. The grocery store DID though. That place was a complete disaster of a dump. Expired food EVERYWHERE. So gross. Glad it’s gone. I hope they put a better grocery store in like Trader Joes. Something everyone can afford.

  • Pigpen pigpen

    I am already missing Tom Boy. Been shopping there for 20+ years. Sure they had some dark times but it was a needed market that I will miss (I live across the street). I havent seen a drug dealer in a few years. I liked the family and will miss being able to walk across the street and buy a beer or frozen burrito for a snack.

  • Hypestyles

    Interesting. Detroit deserves “high quality” grocers. Not particularly “high priced” grocers– and the two are not always the same. When grocers close down, there should be outreach done to the residential community nearby about
    alternative locations. This highlights the problems of the “food desert” phenomenon in Detroit. Kroger won’t set foot in the city anymore. The independent grocer footprint is well-established in the city. Many neighborhood people–especially those without cars– have become (over)reliant on getting perishable foods from convenience stores and gas stations, which by default can only order in smaller volume, and have higher prices as a result. Depending on the ethics of
    the individual owners, your mileage may vary on the level of freshness of any given item.

  • Gary

    Shirley should get off her lazy ass and walk a few extra blocks to the Spartan down the street

    • NiteGoat

      Gary should go fuck himself.

      • Gary

        Get off your lazy ass shirley

    • muckraker_steve

      Gary, don’t insult readers with banal comments. It’s the only rule. Surely you can behave like an adult.

  • NiteGoat

    This makes me sick.

    • Gary

      shut up

  • Jo

    Isn’t University Supermarket (Spartan Store) on Warren just past the Lodge still open? That’s closer and cheaper than Whole Foods.

    • Pigpen pigpen

      No it is not closer.

  • falseprophet

    Isn’t food a right? We need to have a protest ASAP!

    • CakeinBedWithYou

      Sure, non crap food! Place was gross.

  • maggiemay

    Just another small store gouging customers for expired products. Good riddance.

  • bebow

    What’s missing here is meaningful communication between residents-of-a lesser-god and our so-called leaders. If things are to proceed smoothly, it would be wise to set some boundaries and expectations. Clearly, business as usual cannot continue. Tomboy was an insult to the community.

  • It looks like the only thing that place sold was AIDs.

    • muckraker_steve


      • Look at the doors!

        Invokes images of a panel van pulling up and giving out free candy and dirty needles!

        • NiteGoat

          Go back to back to Gross Point and play with daddy’s money elsewhere.

          • Respect the “e”, son.

          • NiteGoat

            It’s gross to me.

          • As are the poors to me.

          • NiteGoat

            Your vulgar display of obviousness already made your feeling towards those less fortunate, common knowledge.

          • I like the cut of your jib.

          • CakeinBedWithYou

            You’ve seen Dances with Wolves one too many times.

          • Tatanka.

            Seriously though, I didn’t know “cut of your jib” was in that movie. In any event, it’s a common saying in Grosse Pointe and other communities of better breeding.

    • NiteGoat

      And I’d like to give you a knuckle sandwich, free of charge.

      • Knuckle sandwich? Haha. Ok, but who’s going to hold your walker while you do so?

        • NiteGoat

          It’s people like you that don’t know the culture of the neighborhoods you decide to gentrify with the money you didn’t earn, but inherited, that are the problem. If you don’t know anything about TomBoy, or have never shopped there, you should probably keep your fucking mouth shut. Not to mention the fact that you didn’t know what the Corridor was until trust-funders decided to re-name it “Midtown”. Stop treating my neighborhood (that I lived in since the early 80’s) like your own adopted African child. 655, bitch!

          • JF

            “If you disagree with my fringe opinion, I will smugly threaten you with violence.” Classy. There is nothing this place sold that couldn’t be obtained at a gas station or a party store, both of which are nearby. Just because you lived in the neighborhood longer than somebody, it doesn’t give you the right to be a condescending asshole.

          • bebow

            The colonials are beyond condescending. It’s being noticed.

          • JF

            I’m not sure any group of people can be collectively condescending just because you get a vibe from “them”. However, the individual posting before me can be guilty of it based on the nastiness he chose to write.

          • bebow

            My reference to “beyond condescending” is intended to point out that the situation exceeds an issue of feelings or vibe, as you have called it. There have been outrageous statements and morally depraved actions against the city’s longstanding residents with measurable harm resulting. Nite isn’t in a position to condescend to the encroaching colonials, but your remark about his remaining gas station grocery shopping options is a good example of what’s being noticed.

          • JF

            Oh, I get it, you’re suggesting that I’m being condescending. But your credibility is lost because I’m being addressed as a “colonial.” Somehow inferring that I am akin to a colonizer because I have a perfectly valid opinion about the terrible options available at that “grocery store”. It wouldn’t matter if we went in there together and counted each item in the store, compared it to the contents of the nearby gas stations and party stores, and determined that the skimpy, overpriced options are exactly the same. No, for you its purely the principle of the thing, because the moment in time that you remember the neighborhood is frozen in time in your head. Any change to that is an afront to you and somehow an effort to stall your identity. Better flex those “I’m more detroit than you” muscles to let everybody know they’re stupid and wrong. This is why I moved out of Detroit this summer after ten years. Enjoy the “colonials”, whatever that means.

          • bebow

            I’m talking about measurable harm, and you’re getting emotional. Tomboy, as I said, was an insult to the community. Nite, who is in a better position to judge the offerings, apparently believes it was a better option than a gas station for grocery shopping. If he chimes in again, you might find Tomboy’s closure is a particle at the summit of his personal mountain. As I also said, it’s time for some direct, meaningful conversation between residents-of-a-lesser-god and our so-called leaders, who shouldn’t be shy about discussing anything they intend to keep doing.

          • JF

            Not even the owners wanted it. “Measurable harm” was a more apt description of its continued existence.

          • bebow

            That is your perspective. There are others.

          • JF

            Indeed there are. I don’t disrespect opinions. I have no respect for somebody who has dismissed “colonizers” and labeled them a such, or nites idle threats of physical violence and bizarre declarations of how total strangers earned their money. That’s not meaningful discussion.

          • bebow

            Was there something meaningful in calling Nite a “condescending asshole?”

          • JF

            The guy who walked into the conversation, poured gasoline on it, told everybody he was better than then and we were all garbage? That guy? That who you’re asking? It’s just a fresh reminder why I left.

          • NiteGoat

            Are you telling me that the Corridor wasn’t abducted by trust-fund hipsters and re-labled “Midtown”?

            And as far as idle threats go, if someone talks shit to me to my face, I have no issue with dropping them on the spot.

            You insult those who have lived in that neighborhood for generations and have worked hard and hustled to just keep their heads above water. Now people like you want to come in with your family’s money, displace them and force them to shop at the likes of Whole Foods or some other over-priced “boutique” market; which they can’t afford.

            Did you ever shop at Tomboy? Or are you just making assumptions as to their offerings and prices?

          • JF

            “Or are you just making assumptions as to their offerings and prices?”

            Assumptions you say?

            In my years in Detroit, nearly everybody I knew, including myself, lived paycheck to paycheck, usually in some shitty service industry job. You’ve crafted this imaginary boogeyman to rant about. We all avoided that place like the plague, but yes, I’ve been inside before.

            Now, you instructing me on what I’m doing wrong in Detroit, how much money my parent’s have (hint: very little), and where I apparently shop — These are all fine examples of ‘assumptions’ that get you all riled up.

            ‘Idle threats’ because you went after somebody in an article message board ON THE INTERNET (welcome – it seems like you haven’t been here before) with a threat of physical violence.

            I’m pretty sure Sue Mosley was responsible for the “rebranding”, but Midtown was created to include neighborhoods beyond the Cass Corridor. Cass Corridor, Brush Park, etc exist within Midtown. I am not aware if Sue does or does not have a trust fund, but you seem privy to that information, so maybe you can enlighten us.

          • NiteGoat

            You’re so full of shit, it’s coming out of your ears (and mouth).
            If you’re going to sit here and pretend to be ignorant of the fact that the Cass Cooridor has been abducted and semi-gentrified by hipsters who inherited family money, you have zero credibility.

            And why did you and your friends who you claim were living paycheck to paycheck , avoid Tomboy “like the plague”? Surely if you were all on such a tight budget, how were you able to shop elsewhere? Also, most residents of that neighborhood don’t have the means of transportation to get to another affordable grocery store.

          • JF

            Seriously, are you a real person or a troll playing the part of a Portlandia Caricature?

            I’m not sure what I have said that I could possibly be fabricating (or what motivation I would have to do so.) I mean, I’m sure a few people with real money have gotten in since restaurants and bars have been opening steadily for the better part of a decade. I would have no way to know if they were from trust funds or not though.

            Are you really under the impression that all businesses opening in Detroit are financed from trust funds?. I don’t know where you got that notion, but it seems to be the source of your confusion (and hatred.)

            I just really get the impression that you actually think you’re more entitled to live in Detroit than other people.

          • NiteGoat

            “Entitled” to live in Detroit? I was born and raised in the city of Detroit.

            Your entire reply is laughable.

          • JF

            There’s that credential-flashing again. Yes, ‘entitlted’. If people listened to and respected folks with your outlook on life, the city would be an even bigger shithole.

          • NiteGoat

            How is stating that I was born and raised in Detroit, “credential-flashing” and having a sense of entitlement?

            And what exactly is my “outlook on life”? How exactly do you gather what my outlook on life is by my pointing out that generations of families are being displaced from their neighborhoods by rich kids with family money?

            If you think that’s a good idea than its people like you who are the problem. Maybe you should turn that finger around and point it at yourself.

            You calling Detroit a shithole just proves my point.

          • JF

            “How is stating that I was born and raised in Detroit, “credential-flashing” and having a sense of entitlement?”


            “Stop treating my neighborhood (that I lived in since the early 80’s) like your own adopted African child.”

            “Go back to back to Gross Point and play with daddy’s money elsewhere.”

            “Not to mention the fact that you didn’t know what the Corridor was until trust-funders decided to re-name it “Midtown””

            Interesting that you tell people they should leave the city and go back to where they came from (creepy behavior, if you ask me), but then claim elsewhere to live in California? Maybe you could have kept Tomboy open if you’d stayed to support it instead of moved to Cali? Just a thought…

          • NiteGoat

            You still didn’t answer my question. How do any of my comments which you quote imply a sense of entitlement or “credential-flashing”? I was born in the place which you claim I’m “credential-flashing”, whatever that means.

            So, because I now live in Clairornia, which you had to dig into my Disqus profile to know (creepy behavior, if you ask me) somehow gives you the right to call my home a “shithole” and pass judgement on my defending my old neighborhood from gentrification and outright displacement of generations of its residents? How dare you?!

          • NiteGoat

            Again, you show your ignorance by your statement “There is nothing this place sold that couldn’t be obtained at a gas station or a party store…”. TomBoy was a fully functioning grocery store.

          • muckraker_steve

            JF, that is so far from the truth it’s laughable. I went to that store 2-3 times a week. Nice narrative, but it ain’t true.

          • I do all my shopping at Stadium Liquor, however, most of my needs are of the libation variety.

            Stop treating our investments like your own personal cross to bear, peasant.

          • NiteGoat

            Peasant? I’m Corridor royalty, bitch. Too bad the Ansonia isn’t still open. You could get your libations there 24/7.

          • The Crown Prince of the Corridor? What does your royal crest look like?

          • NiteGoat

            You’ll know it when you see it.

          • I think we should design one. Do you have any graphic designer friends?