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A food desert no more | Berkley Supermarket opens in Norfolk

After three years without a grocery store, the Berkley Supermarket celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

NORFOLK, Va. — A food desert no more. 

After years without a grocery store, a supermarket opened in the Berkley neighborhood of Norfolk.

“It’s the best thing they ever did because this community needed it. They really needed a place to shop," said Mamie Jones, as she pulled a bottle of lemon juice from an aisle in the brand new Berkley Supermarket. 

Once a food desert, there’s now an oasis in this neighborhood, located in the southern part of Norfolk. 

The store hosted a grand opening ceremony Thursday. 

Since 2018, the Berkley neighborhood has been without a place to grab fresh produce, but now people like Jones don't have to travel far to get what they need. 

"Especially, the elderly," she said. "There's a lot of elderly in this community and they had to go outside [of the area] to shop."   

The supermarket is family-owned. 

Mike Palmer, his wife and sons run the business. Palmer said it's a dream more than 30 years in the making, but most important to him, the store is making a difference. 

"The mere fact that it has to do with us ending a food desert is more exciting to me than anything else," he said. 

Credit: Eugene Daniel WVEC
The Palmer family speaks to the crowd in attendance for the Berkley Supermarket grand opening.

Mayor Kenny Alexander, who grew up in the Berkley neighborhood, said the location is a prime example of what can happen when the community and the city work together. 

The City of Norfolk set aside roughly half of a million dollars to attract a grocer to move into this location, and the Palmers invested significantly to open to the store. 

“It’s a testament to the commitment of the city, the persistence of the community and the goodwill of the Palmers,” Alexander said.  

It's bigger than economics.  

Alexander said the grocery store now enhances the health and wellness of the community, as food insecurity consistently links to overall poorer health in the area of need. 

Palmer said he's going to depend on feedback from the community, so the store can best serve the neighborhood. 

Berkley Supermarket is located on 201 E. Berkley Ave. in Norfolk.