Buy Asian Groceries Without the Trip
by Myful Al Sarah
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO – Traveling far to buy authentic Asian groceries ends, as new grocery stores in town are at your convenience.
Asian Food Market opened officially Nov. 1. Arkansas State college of business graduate Qiufang Lin started her own business to help citizens who like Asian foods. Now they don’t need to spend money on gas to travel to Memphis, Little Rock or St. Louis only to buy their favorite food items.
“Mainly I am targeting Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Philippines, Vietnamese who live in Jonesboro as my customers. Even local Americans can find their favorite Asian snacks, spices, vegetables in my store,” Lin said.
A number of AState international students can now buy their home-food ingredients. Lin said she is giving a 5 percent discount to all AState students. She is selling different kinds of rice, noodles, tofu, spice and snacks including dumplings, and also fresh vegetables like bok choy and cabbage.
“I am still working on my inventory. Initially, the prices may seem a little bit higher, but it will get lower as soon as I am able to order in a bigger amount. I am also thinking of having a few Indian grocery items,” Lin said.
A QuikTrip convenience store started selling authentic Indian groceries like various types of spices and lentils, rice, flour, pickles, ghee and desi snacks.
Raksha Harikrishnan, the owner, said she had the idea of selling Indian groceries in Jonesboro and her husband helped her to make it real.
“I told my husband to get a truck. We both drove to Chicago and bought a number of common items. Within a weekend, we put stuff on the shelves with price tags,” Harikrishnan said. “We are not targeting only Indians. We are targeting everybody who loves Indian foods and it’s been steady since we started.”
Harikrishnan said she planned to get frozen food items like naan, samosa and paratha, which are very popular among locals.
“I am working on getting a freezer for the frozen items. As soon as I can manage it, you will be able to buy delicious Indian snacks,” she said. “We kept the prices similar to other places, which makes it more convenient on the budget as you don’t have to drive to other cities. For some items, it may be even less.”
The growing international students’ community felt more excited, as the shopping shuttle provided by AState’s International Student Services provides rides to these two stores.
Mallory Yarbrough, coordinator of International Student Services, said, “We have over 600 Asian students at A-State, which is almost three-fourths of our total international population. Some of them came to me and said they really want to be dropped off at these new stores. Since we have such a high population of Asian students, we might as well be accommodating and help them as much as we can. I hope it makes them feel more home, being able to go places they recognize the food.”