Houston's Black-owned grocery store celebrates one year anniversary

Did you know there’s a Black owned grocery store in Houston? It’s on Cypress Creek Parkway at TC Jester on the Northwest side of town, and it opened a year ago.

Step inside, and you’ll see how full District Market Green Grocer is. The store is far more stocked and has more products than it did a year ago when it first opened and the owner hopes it will continue to grow. 

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"These are some of my bestsellers. This is a hibiscus tea," says District Market Green Grocer Owner Robert Thomas as he shows off his specially made sea moss drinks. "Sea moss is very high in vitamins and minerals. It has 92 vitamins and minerals. It’s all natural. It comes out of the ocean. It has extreme health benefits. (So do your sea moss drinks taste good?) They taste good. They’re all natural with no preservatives, no chemicals," Thomas explains.   

Selling everything from fresh made juices and teas to vegan products, supplements and spices, of course, District Market Green Grocer also has fruits, veggies, frozen foods and meat. 

"We have grass fed beef. We also have special ox tails. No steroids, no hormones. All natural beef and chicken," Thomas says. 

In the year since the doors to District Market opened, "We’re doing pretty well despite inflation and the gas price hikes. We’re still holding on," adds Thomas. Although he says those things have caused once constant customers to cut back.

"They’re still taking the drive, but before they were doing it every day. Now it's happening once a week, once every other week."

"I’m all the way on the other side of town. This store has been an inspiration to myself. This guy is like my mentor," says customer Mike Miller. 

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People, in peaks and valleys, are coming from all over the area, the state and the country to shop.

"I just really appreciate the community giving me this support, like it’s overwhelming. It’s really very overwhelming. It really is. I was told it wouldn’t work, and it’s working," Thomas smiles.  

Most of his products are from Black owned businesses. 

"We have Rap Snacks. Good Black brand. I collaborated with them to have maybe the biggest selection you can see in any store. 1186 Water is a very popular Black owned water brand. This is a good brand here. Spice Jamaica. He’s local here to Houston. A guy out of Jamaica. He makes his own spices. All-purpose. He has this garlic herb and jerk seasoning," Thomas says while showing the items and his store.  

"This is something important to have. Something that you’re putting your heart and soul in is getting recognized and there’s a place, there’s a house for it. So we all have this vessel, and this store is a vessel for the things we’re creating. So it’s a beautiful thing," says Areka Bannister Owner of Oyaree Naturals, which are sea moss infused bath and body products. 

"The main thing that I have that I’m extremely proud of is our sea moss selection. We have different breeds of sea moss, different flavors of sea moss. (Why would you encourage customers to shop at your store?) We have specialty items that you can’t find anywhere, and we have wellness. We have knowledge of wellness, and we have good healthy products that can save your life," Thomas says. 

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"This table features some of our youngest vendors. (How old is the kiddo who has this business?) He is 9-years-old. 9-years-old? 9-years-old. He makes his own beard oil. (And he doesn't even have a beard yet)," I laughed as Thomas continues taking me on a tour.

The next step for District Market Green Grocer is to expand into food deserts.

"And we’re going to take my company and make it available to the community to invest in shares, and they can share in the dream with me," says Thomas who is also working on his website to develop an online store to start shipping products.

District Market Green Grocer is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.