Black-owned grocery store 'A&M Marketplace' wants to be model for others, expand to reach more people

Study: 16% of people in Nashville-metro are Black, but only 3% of businesses are black-owned
Posted at 3:13 PM, Feb 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 08:04:13-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Supporting the Black-owned businesses in your community is one way to recognize Black History Month.

A&M Marketplace at the Nashville Farmers' Market carries products that are hard to find anywhere else in the city. Co-owner Martha Lupai says customers often associate products in the store with their pasts.

"[Customers say] 'Oh my God. I used to eat that when I was a child. Oh my God. That reminds me of my grandmother,'" said Martha Lupai.

Lupai opened the store in 2020 with her husband. She is a refugee from Ethiopia and her husband is from South Sudan.

Their business faced hardships during the pandemic, but the store survived.

"Everything shut down. The tourists were not coming, but by God's grace we are still here, and it's coming back to what it was," Lupai said.

The grocery store is stocked with international goods, including fresh food, pantry items, beer, gifts and fair-trade products. They carry a wide variety of items from Black-owned companies. Supporting minority businesses is important to the owners.

"It was very hard for us as a Black-owned business to get funding and also to find someone who can just mentor you and tell you the roadway... this is how it's done and this is what you need to do. So, people who have difficulty, then they, like, quit the business. It is very hard," she said.

According to research published last year by the Brookings Institute, in the Nashville Metro area, 16% of people are Black, but only 3% of businesses are Black-owned.

Lupai hopes her store becomes a model for others.

"I'm always sharing what I know," she said.

The couple plans to open a second grocery store in March. It will be on Jefferson Street.