The store, co-owned by Erin Caudell and Franklin Pleasant, began as the Flint Ingredient Company in 2012. The pair grew vegetables in their home’s front yard for a small CSA and to sell at neighborhood farmer’s markets. Following a successful season, they purchased nine acres of land in Beecher and opened The Local Grocer at the Flint Farmers’ Market.
A year later, the grocery store, located at 601 Martin L. King Ave. opened, offering frozen local meats, ice cream, pantry items, snacks, and fresh-made grab-and-go items to name a few. Today, The Local Grocer also offers meal prep programs, catering, Friday family dinners, and holiday brunches.
Co-owner Erin Caudell says the store has grown and shifted over the past six years. “The mission has absolutely shifted to meet community needs, as well as be flexible in the pandemic,” she says. “We started out only with Michigan products, but we expanded to have more kinds of products as customers told us what they were interested in.”
The grocery store also saw a need for grab-and-go food options for customers. Originally, food was made-to-order in the kitchen, but Caudell says people wanted to grab something quick.
The grocery store offers fresh grab-and-go food options that range from gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian.The co-owner’s background in farming and produce means the store offers local sourcing and many natural ingredients. “We try to offer healthier options,” Caudell says. “Most of our products, if they have sugar in them, are real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. We try to have options that are on the healthier side, and also gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian foods.”
The Local Grocer also stocks local and Michigan-made products on their shelves, including Flint Coffee Company (actually roasted upstairs), Happy Girl Granola, Caramel Yum Yums, Great Lakes Chips, Faygo, and more.
If you’re looking for more ready-to-go meals, the store also offers dinners every week. “Our Friday dinners are part of our pivoting during the pandemic when we weren’t doing a lot of catering,” Caudell says. “We started offering a family dinner on Friday nights, which changes every week to something we hope families can enjoy together. That’s been a really popular addition.”
Three months ago, the store added another popular service, a meal prep option, where customers can order Tuesday through Thursday for a Monday pickup.
Charcuterie trays made fresh at The Local Grocer.
Food options rotate and have included cooked-and-ready-to-eat vegan and traditional breakfast, lunch, and supper options ranging from savory quinoa breakfast, breakfast burritos, frittata, wraps, chicken salad, split pea soup, spicy Thai noodles, cauliflower shawarma bowls, and baked goods.
This holiday season, The Local Grocer also offers holiday brunch-catered meals. From now until Dec. 21, customers can pre-order brunch items like quiche, vegan and traditional meat & cheese charcuterie trays, smoked salmon, fruit trays, cinnamon rolls, crumb cakes, and more.
Looking forward, Caudell hopes the store can continue to grow its business on the weekends, and grow more relationships within the community.
“We’ve done a lot of different things, held a lot of different events and partnerships,” she says. “A lot of that has shifted over the pandemic. We’re looking forward to how that can kind of return next year, as things hopefully get somewhat back to normal. We have a lot of different aspects of the business that make it a community space in a lot of different ways. We’ve done pop-ups in the kitchen, and had different restaurants use the kitchen on Saturdays in the past.”
The Local Grocer is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sunday.
Visit The Local Grocer’s website for more information.