International flavor: Big Basket Market in North Amherst filling shelves with Indian, Arabic and Asian food
AMHERST — Akshaya Pawar found a package of turmeric on the first day of business for a new foreign grocery store in North Amherst’s Mill District, and she immediately made a fortune.
While looking at the packet containing full bits of turmeric, Pawar stated, “This was an unexpected find.” In order to use turmeric in Hindu religious rituals, she indicated that she might boil it in milk or water.
Pawar, who also purchased a box of almond cake rusks, expressed her delight at the opening of Big Basket Market and expressed gratitude that she wouldn’t have to travel far for Indian food in the future since it would be so nearby. She had been eagerly anticipating its opening for the previous month.
A family from Amherst, Sri Lanka, is currently running the store at 19 Montague Road, which is located in the Riverside Park shopping center and was formerly home to Captain Video before it closed in 2015.
Khaalid Rizwan characterizes the store’s offerings as “a little bit of everything” based on the previous year’s preparation. On Triangle Street’s Amherst Market, a more traditional convenience shop, his father Riswan Raufdeen also shares ownership.
Rizwan said the family achieved their aim of opening in the weeks prior to the start of the new school year, with hopes that COVID-19 is beginning to diminish and that an increasing number of international students are continuing to study at the University of Massachusetts.
In addition to providing food from all over the world, we want to be a hub for international students, added Rizwan.
With spices, rice, noodles, and beans all being offered in bulk, there is also anticipation that Big Basket Market, through its connections with vendors, will have a wider variety of products and lower pricing than its customers may be used to.
Since they are still in school, Rizwan remarked, “for college students we want to offer a good price.” The store’s main sign provides more information about what is available inside, saying that it sells food that has received the Halal certification as well as Indian, Arabic, and Asian cuisines, as well as all kinds of international supplies.
Many of the goodies, such as Khari cookies, sweet Arabic dates, and a pani puri kit for making fully puffed puris with chutney and pani puri concentration, according to Rizwan, may not be available locally.
Customers started perusing the store’s shelves and freezers shortly after it opened at 8 a.m., even though they are still empty. However, the family will consider the advice. One customer asked Rizwan about a particular product, and he said, “Let us know what you need and we’ll purchase it for you.
The shelves of one aisle are currently predominately stocked with Indian foods, such as spices, instant mixes, curry powder, masala, and turmeric powder, while the shelves of another aisle are primarily South Korean foods, such as tea powder, Korean barbecue sauce short rib, seaweed, spicy noodles, soy sauce, chili oil with soybean, and shahe dried rice noodle.
Along with typical American snacks and pastries, macaroni and cheese boxes, jars of peanut butter, and refrigerators stocked with beverages and freezers stocked with prepackaged goods, the store also sells jars of peanut butter and jelly. Shampoos and soaps can be found on additional shelves.
On all other days excluding Sundays, when it closes at 8 p.m., Big Basket Market will be open until 9:30 p.m. and will also provide home deliveries.
Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, who is in charge of the Mill District’s business operations, explained that embracing the global marketplace is a part of the idea of curating a variety of retail establishments for the area, which is home to both substantial apartment buildings and single-family homes.
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