Steve and Michele spent $ 100,000 for a complete renovation of the 11,000 square foot lot. Gratiot store, with new overhead lighting and wider aisles that give you a better view of the store – a great selection of wines in one corner and an upscale grocery store along a wall with a wide variety of hot foods prepared daily and salads to take away.
“It’s a gourmet grocery store. We’re proud of it,” Fernandez said.
Jones is a member of the Fort Gratiot Business Association, while he is a member of the St. Clair Chamber of Commerce.
The large parking lot of the Fort Gratiot store hosted two community events inspired by COVID. On Labor Day, 150 cars full of people came to watch a free screening of the movie “Jumanji 2” on a screen rented by Fernandez and Jones.
On Halloween, with the traditional trick-or-treat verboten, they had another drive-in screening, this time of the movie “The Addams Family”. Michele disguised himself as Morticia and he as Gomez, and they drove around the hundred cars that showed up giving out candy.
“We went full speed ahead with the grocery stores,” Fernandez said. “We cashed in our retirement and did exactly what a financial advisor would have said (not) to do. We have invested 90 percent of our personal wealth here.”
They have 20 employees in the Fort Gratiot store. They plan to have about 45 downtown, which will be a much larger 24,000 square foot store, half on the ground floor and half in the basement, where there will be a wine cellar, wine cellar. beer and general merchandise such as soap, brooms and mops.
The second floor of the building will include three offices for rent and a 1,500 square foot loft.
They currently live in another loft in downtown Port Huron. “The entire loft is smaller than the front room of our Arizona home,” Fernandez said.
Loft living gave them an idea of what buyers will need. The market will have paper towel rolls and toilet paper, but in small quantities. Loft dwellers don’t have storage space for Costco-sized packs of 15 or 18 rolls of paper towels or toilet paper. And without onsite parking, most customers will be on foot, walking from their workplace or loft, wanting to go out with a bag or two, maybe some food they need for the next day, not a huge one. basket filled with a month’s worth of stuff.
“Our goal is for just-in-time grocery shopping to become the norm,” he said.
For much of the year, the store will also have sidewalk tables outside for those who buy food to sit and eat.