Greg Calhoun, the pioneering businessman who became the first black supermarket owner in the South, building it into one of the largest black-owned supermarket chains in the country, has died at 66 years old.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Calhoun’s daughter announced on Facebook that her father died on Thursday at 5:55 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Words can’t express the shock and hurt we are enduring at this moment,” wrote ShaKenya Calhoun, “but we KNOW God does not make any mistakes!”
Calhoun bought his first supermarket, Calhoun Foods, in Montgomery, Ala., in 1984. After banks in Montgomery refused to offer him a loan, Calhoun traveled to New York and secured a loan using his family’s home as collateral. He returned to Montgomery and purchased the supermarket where he first bagged groceries. Although the terms of the loan gave him five years to pay it off, Calhoun did it in three.
He eventually expanded to 15 locations throughout Georgia and Florida, during the ’80s and ’90s, adding a food-distribution company and a brokerage business. Calhoun closed his last Montgomery location in 2015, eventually closing his final stores in Tuskegee and Selma, Ala., shortly thereafter.
The heralded businessman recently purchased a latex glove factory with a friend, comedian Steve Harvey. Calhoun also accompanied Harvey to Trump Tower to visit the Trump transition team in January 2016.