It’s been happening quietly in cities from Dearborn to Grand Blanc, where Amazon is snapping up buildings and turning them into grocery stores.
So far, there are nine different locations across Metro Detroit, including Grand Blanc and Dearborn, mentioned above, plus Rochester Hills, Shelby Township, Livonia, Troy, Roseville, Plymouth, and St. Clair Shores.
Amazon isn’t saying whether Mendel’s Grocery is the business behind the Metro Detroit developments, which is the same name with the same look in locations going up across the country. It’s looking like they’re trying to coordinate openings in a big splash moment.
There’s nothing subtle about the noise as they construct the new grocery store in the Plymouth Towne Center at the corner of Haggerty and Ann Arbor roads.
Amazon is trying to fly under the radar. But Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise is happy to spill the (Amazon Fresh) beans.
“I think they want to make a big impact with a big splash in southeast Michigan,” said Heise. “Apparently, that’s the way they do it nationwide. I think they’re going to generate a lot of attention when that day comes.”
Just a few miles down the road on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Amazon is also converting the old Kroger grocery store into an Amazon Fresh location.
In Plymouth, there’s a lot of interest.
“Amazon is evolving over time, so I think that’s neat,” said Tamia Harrison.
“I think it’s probably a good idea if it’s a fresh store,” said a woman.
“It’s fun, nice to have something different in the area,” said a man.
If you’re unfamiliar with Amazon Fresh, it’s a regular grocery store looking to press Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods into a very different experience with one that is technology driven.
For instance, shopping carts can scan your items in the store, so you don’t have to stop at a checkout counter. It runs off a phone app.
“I want to see that,” Harrison said. “They’re going to have it in the store. I like Amazon online, so it being in person could be pretty cool.”
“It’s real intriguing,” said the man. “I’d be interested in seeing how it works and can’t imagine, really.”
There’s no word when they’ll open the place, but they are at least a few months out from that.