Stockton spoken-word poet and “America’s Got Talent” season 15 champion Brandon Leake is setting off on a new venture in the 209.
That venture involved bringing a “Neighborhood Grocery & Gym” with the intent of eliminating a food desert and bringing healthy eating and Black ownership to South Stockton.
In a YouTube video released on his birthday, Leake talks about his vision of re-purposing the old Kmart building at 2180 E Mariposa Road into a place of generational change for the southside Stockton community.
That video caught the attention of Visionary Home Builders. They reached out to Leake.
The vision for his venture remains but the location is moving to the Grand View Village affordable housing project on Miner Avenue between San Joaquin and Hunter streets in downtown Stockton.
“The grocery store is happening just not at the location that we originally were envisioning,” Leake said. “Visionary Home Builders reached out to me … and they offered me a free building for a year … at their new affordable housing unit that they’re building to be able to house the grocery store.”
The project will be coming to another food desert but without the gym.
Leake said the amount of real estate available within the downtown space wouldn’t be enough for the public gym he envisioned.
“The gym that I have envisioned for this project is going to be one that is going to be accessible to all people … we’re gonna start with the grocery and utilize the funds and resources gained from that to then be able to go and purchase more real estate to be able to do the gym,” he said.
“We’re hoping to be open fall of next year,” Leake said.
Fundraising for the project will continue to raise funds to stock up shelves and hire employees.
The grocery store will have two unique aisles a “209” and a “619” aisle.
The “209” aisle will have its shelves filled with “all locally created and drafted items.” The “619” aisle which Leake said will feature “black-owned items” stands for June 19 or Juneteenth.
Leake said he is looking for items created by black-owned businesses and local items to feature in the aisles.
And his goal and mission remains to expand to South Side Stockton even if it’s not right away.
“We will be there because where there’s a need, that’s where we will be,” Leake said.
He hopes to utilize the downtown location as a model to show potential investors and loan companies what can also happen in South Side Stockton.
“My heart and my soul is still in getting back to the community that I set to do this with,” he said.
For more information on “The Neighborhood Grocery & Gym” or to donate to this project visit: theneighborhoodgrocery.com.
Record reporter Angelaydet Rocha covers community news in Stockton and San Joaquin County. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelaydetRocha. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.