EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A vacant building is getting a new look and purpose. “Neighbors' Marketplace” is coming to 1005 N. 15th Street in East St. Louis.
Employees will cut meat daily in a cutting room that was under construction Friday. When the store opens in April, customers will be able to order meals and eat while seated next to the storefront windows. There will also be a variety of fresh produce for sale.
However, there's something else that makes the place unique.
"We were told, and everyone goes to Google, that there are 39 African-American owned grocery stores in the whole country," co-owner Sterling Moody said. "This will be number 39, yes."
Sterling Moody and his business partner, Charles Bussey, are the owners of this store.
"We, as African-American people, are probably number one in the consumer market," Moody said. "We buy, we buy. We spend, we spend. And now, we have to monitor some of our money and our spending by being our own business."
This business is filling a need. It's located within a food desert.
"A food desert is considered an area where there's not enough grocery stores for the people to get healthy food," Moody said.
In fact, because of that, the Illinois Facilities Fund is covering around 90 percent of the cost of the store.
There is a MetroLink platform across the street from the store. Moody hopes riders and senior citizens living upstairs and next door will stop by the store.
"They come in, they complain, they tell me what they want and have fun,” Moody said. “We give them a bag of candy, some pecans, and just making this truly a neighborhood store.”
The store is also a police substation. The owners plan to open another grocery store in downtown East St. Louis. It's expected to open in the fall.