Husband-and-wife duo Jamie Michael Hemmings and Jilea Hemmings recently launched the world's first Black-owned autonomous grocery store. Located in Fayetteville, Georgia (south metro Atlanta) in the Town Centre at Trilith development, Nourish + Bloom Market is well-received by the community and grocery shoppers from across Georgia.
Their mission is to make healthy food convenient and affordable for more people using autonomous and robotic technology. Nourish + Bloom Market is also on a mission to make eating healthy and convenient.
“It feels amazing to be the first Black-owned autonomous grocery store. It's a complete honor and we stand on the backs of people before us,” says Jilea.
Jamie adds, “We have two robots named, Nourish and Bloom. We are not only the first Black-owned autonomous grocery store, we are the first autonomous grocery store to use robots.”
Not Your Everyday Market
What's unique about the 24-hour, seven days per week, 365-day operation is it's a “frictionless” grocery store and bistro that stocks over 1,000 locally sourced healthy food products including meats, produce, dairy, healthcare and prepared foods.
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All products sold at Nourish + Bloom Market are made with the highest quality ingredients that are minimally processed. According to the Hemmings, no GMO or high fructose corn syrup products are allowed. “We believe that everyone deserves to eat healthy,” says Jilea.
Nourish + Bloom Market is not your everyday grocery store. It uses self-guiding technology consisting of an extensive network of cameras, shelf scales measuring the weights of each product, and A1 technology.
After downloading the grocery store's app and uploading your payment information, customers enter the store, scan QR codes with their smartphone app to shop for grocery, baked goods, healthcare items, and prepared meals, and then pay for the items without checking out at a register. Customers skip the checkout lane and pay automatically by way of the app as they leave the store. In addition to the store requiring no cashiers, robots can deliver online orders within a 3-mile radius of the store.
The popular robots, Nourish + Bloom, are programmed with facial recognition software and temperature-controlled bellies and can be seen roaming the sidewalks of Trilith Town Centre, bringing joy to the community and delivering grocery orders. Jilea shares, “We are so excited about the community, and the community is overwhelmed with excitement.”
Jamie adds, “They absolutely love the robots. The community response has been overwhelming. They are so proud to see a Black family doing this and then also to experience the technology. People have been very excited about that.”
Food Meets Technology
The Hemmings began their journey into the food industry years ago when their oldest son was diagnosed with autism at age two. While researching the role that diet plays in autism, the high school sweethearts started Greenie Tots, a food company designed to make healthier children's favorites. We were the first to make meatless meals for kids,” says Jilea. Although the products are no longer offered, they plan to bring them back in the near future.
The New Yorkers decided to make Georgia their home two years ago after Jamie's father became ill. “My dad became ill, and he lived in Georgia, and we decided to move South. That's what sparked our move to Georgia,” says Jilea, who grew up in Brooklyn with a background in pharmaceutical sales. Jamie grew up in White Plains and worked in healthcare.
The couple found themselves having a hard time finding healthy goods, so they decided to take their food and tech background and create Nourish + Bloom Market. The Hemmings were taught early on about the importance of choosing the right location to launch their business.
“We got introduced to the area to find a school for our son. We found a school in the area and loved the area and loved the school. It was just the right place,” says Jilea.
From the looks of it, Nourish + Bloom Market is perfectly positioned for success. The Town at Trilith area is a flourishing community built around Trilith Studio (formerly known as Pinewood Studios), the second-largest film and television studio in North America.
Inspired by Europe's walkable and picturesque villages, Trilith is an award-winning 235-acre master-planned residential and mixed-use development in Fayetteville. The new urbanist development is a contemporary walkable environment with luxury homes ranging from $300,000 to millions and one-of-a-kind restaurants and retailers.
Managing a marriage, family, and a successful business is quite challenging. Although it's not easy, Jamie and Jilea have managed to figure it out, and they work hard to keep the spice in their life. “It's definitely not easy. My wife and I worked on every project, and every project we have done has been a challenge,” Jamie says, who has been married to Jilea for 16 years. “It's definitely tough. We find a way to make it work. Jilea and I find little moments to be together.”
Future Plans Are Blooming
The Hemmings started the Nourish + Bloom Market project during the pandemic in 2020. Two years later, they are working on plans to open autonomous markets all over the U.S. Later this year, they will open another store in the Atlanta market.
“We are looking to expand in the Atlanta area and other markets. We plan to open up 800 stores in the country. We definitely want to own the Atlanta market,” says Jilea.
The couple has also partnered with Microsoft to present STEM programs to Black communities and offer mentorship and retraining programs for Black adults.
“We have so many different legacies. We want to make sure that things are easily accessible for all. Nourish and Bloom will be synonymous with convenience and healthy eating,” says Jilea.
Jamie closes, “Our legacy is being the first to leave inspiration to the young Black children and the community to get in the technology space. Autonomous grocery is the future.”
To experience Nourish + Bloom for yourself, stop by 300 Trilith Pkwy Ste 250-255 in Fayetteville. For updates, new locations and more, visit www.nourishandbloommarket.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.