Corcoran neighborhood has a newly opened international market store on the newly refurbished corner of Lake Street and Cedar Avenue. Mohamed Ahmed and his family run the City Market there. I arrived on a hot, rainy Saturday and was graciously greeted by Mohamed and his daughter Hany. Both Hany and her sister Suad work in the store. Suad handles marketing and works most weekdays. Hany attends the U of M and works on weekends.
The store has a fresh produce area in the front, an olive bar, and specialty cheeses including Egyptian and French varieties, as well as a selection of breads. If you are lover of dates – this is the place to get them. The market has a meat deli that can order larger meats, including whole goats. The store area is quite large and the shelves are still being filled.
The City Market opened in August 2007 along with a coffee bar and tobacco shop – which have an entrance on Cedar Avenue. The coffee bar has two computers and wireless service. The City Market offers a buffet in the store that gives students a half price discount with their ID. The City Market also offers catering and has contracts to provide meals for several charter schools. The City Market has everything from basic staples like rice and beans in bulk quantities to local “Minnesota grown” ice in huge bags for a great price from a pure water source. The store also has a center for wiring money.
The day I visited, the store was quiet and the coffee shop closed due to Ramadan. The family expects business to pick up after the fasting days (sawm) of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting when Muslim people visit with friends and family, worship, and a time to strengthen family and community ties. As I walked around taking pictures and checking out the store, I thought about what a huge commitment people make when they open a local business by purchasing thousands of dollars of goods and equipment and how much they depend on the community to shop in smaller stores.
Corcoran has lost a number of businesses over the years and yet we have several new ones opening. So remember when you are standing in that long line in the big name store, under the harsh lights with your two bananas, a can of soup and pack of cheese, waiting impatiently, that you can shop at a small, local market. It might be a buck or two more, but you support a local family, have a relaxing experience at a place you can walk to where you can visit with your neighbors, and feel good about shopping.