Last November, Sadia Vapond opened up the first multicultural grocery store in the greater St. Michael-Albertville area. One Stop African Oriental Market carries fresh, frozen and dry goods from various African and Asian countries, including her home of Liberia.
Vapond and her son, David, moved to St. Michael about four years ago from Brooklyn Park, but when it came to the food stocked up in their fridge? Enough was enough.
“I opened up in November because I got sick and tired of driving to the cities to get groceries and the type of food that I eat from my country,” she said. “I told myself I needed to do something. So I took the step — the brave step — to do this.”
Right on Central Avenue in St. Michael, One Stop pulls shoppers from Elk River, Otsego, Buffalo, Monticello and beyond due to its unique position in the community. Many lovers-of-pho and other Asian dishes were missing fresh Thai basil, bean sprouts and cilantro in local grocery stores, and now, Vapond can shorten those commutes.
“The community has been really helpful, and they are all very curious,” she said. Vapond is always ready to lend a helping hand and walk newbies through the preparation of certain ingredients, and has lots of recipes in mind for interested eaters.
Produce gets delivered weekly, with everything from fresh ginger to coconut to veggies of all colors to stuff into spring rolls. The aisles are stocked with beans, rice, grains and novelty snacks, but the main attraction is a giant, drool-worthy section of spices and seasonings.
“We are going at a pace where we aren’t just stocking anything on the shelves, but things that people will actually buy or that they would go to the city for,” said Vapond.
Goodies from Ghana, Cameroon and more are being introduced slowly, and Vapond says her Asian clients have been helpful in figuring out what new goodies to try selling.
“People are spreading the word that we are here, and they are excited as well,” she said.
One Stop African Oriental Market is located at 921 Central Avenue East, Suite 100. If people have any questions, call Sadia Vapond at 763-843-1040.