Driven: Black-owned grocery store fills void in underserved Pensacola neighborhood


PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Driven is a series highlighting the positive things in the community — stories that are often overlooked.  

The owner of a Black-owned grocery store in Pensacola is working to fill a void in an underserved part of the city. 

Making a trip to the grocery store in Pensacola’s majority-black fifth district is not easy. For Marni Woodson, it was a problem she thought about for months.   

“The only places that are close enough for fresh, nutritious food, are like the Publix,” Woodson said.  “And people here can’t walk to the Publix. It’s in a gentrified part of town and it’s not as affordable.”   

She came up with the idea to open Busy Bee Mercantile and General Store, where shoppers get their pick of fruits, veggies and grains and can also grab a bite to eat. Woodson said it’s not just about having a grocery store in this area, but making sure the food on the shelves help heal people from the inside out.    

 “We know food can be used as medicine. In the minority communities, we know that we suffer the most from high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol issues,” Woodson said.  

 Woodson is a hairdresser who started to see the benefits of a healthy lifestyle first-hand. She leaped on the opportunity to open up Busy Bee right next door to her tea house on 9th Avenue called Asher and Bee. The new store is a place Tia Robbins plans to visit regularly.   

“It just means so much to me and for our community, how we can together support each other,” said Robbins.  “To have all these farmers, and different people supply to Marni, and mostly Black farmers, is an incredible experience and incredible for the community.”  

The Black-owned business is not only supporting the health of people in the community, but their pockets as well. Woodson’s store brings in several jobs for locals.  

“People don’t make a lot of money nowadays, as far as working goes. And in a pandemic, what do you do? This a good time. This is something to celebrate. We need something to celebrate right now,” Woodson said. Her mission: Preserving and uplifting Black lives, in an area often overlooked. 

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