The COVID-19 pandemic did not only threaten our living conditions, but it has also hit the economy very hard. Among the areas where it has impacted very upon is big businesses but some small-scale enterprises such as grocery stores, are not complaining like the bigger ones. One great example is the opening of the Grand Bazaar store in the Meadows in Nottingham. The Grand Bazaar started its operations in the Meadows area during the period the second wave of the pandemic reached its peak. Many were cynical of the timing and how hard the pandemic could hit the business, but if there is any sector of business in town which is booming, it would be grocery stores. In this interview with the editor of Mojatu Magazine Pa Modou Faal, the proprietor explains why he chose to open a grocery in the meadows:
Basically, the reason we chose this area is because we have noticed the big demand for such a grocery store with a variety of supply in African, Asian, and international products including a butchery section which we notice, do not exist within the Meadows community. At the butcher’s section we sell daily fresh halal products like chicken, beef and lamb and mutton meat.
Why did you choose to start your business in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when most businesses are faced with a lot of financial challenges?
Well, I do not think that is the case for the retail store like groceries. We have noticed during the pandemic that some of the major grocery stores that have been operating in Nottingham for many years now, have been increasing their prices when people needed them the most. This created panic within the consumers, even though wholesale suppliers have repeatedly assured them that they had huge stock at the same prices and that there was no need to increase the prices of those basic commodities. It is in this light that we deemed it as a good idea to open this store here not only for the Meadows community but also for those in the surrounding at the same time having in mind the health and safety regulations.
What is the response level from the community?
We are very surprised with the response we are getting from the community especially when we just started. We were somehow panicking while filling in the shelves and displaying the products and their prices because we were just making a trial and not planning to open to the public on that day but the response was beyond our expectation. Since then, we have been receiving the support of the community and that is making the business smoothly flowing and we really appreciate that.
Are you challenged by any hitch as a result of the pandemic?
I think you need to understand the overall need of the community first. Considering the fact that the Meadows is multi-culturally diverse community, we saw the need to be diverse as well in regard with the products we bring to the and the reasonability of their price. We are endeavouring to making sure that every member of the community feels welcomed and they will find most of the things they need without having to travel to the city.
Are you happy with the trend of the business?
Yes! We are looking forward to seeing the business move forward and so far, so good because the turnout is good. We are happy with what we have achieved since we opened, and we are hopeful that such will continue to be the norm.
Would you call on other investors too by encouraging them to in other communities far from town?
We may not help of help directly, but we are indirectly. Previously, people around here had to go to Sneinton or Hyson Green just to buy their basic provisions like rice, meat and traditional or cultural products. To get to those places, they would need to take the bus, the tram, a taxi or drive there themselves and that is somehow uncomfortable and more cost incurring, but they do not have worry anymore now since we are at the doorsteps. The price we offer them here are more reasonable compared to those in town.
Comparatively, what is the price variation between the Grand Bazaar and other place?
I do not want to call names, but our meat section is second to none. The products we are selling here are more customer friend and, in some instance, the difference goes up to about £1.50 to £2 per kilogram. The reason is we look for cheaper suppliers and we have created cordial working relationship with the suppliers at slaughterhouses and we go to collect fresh and clean raw meat just to give our customers the best product at reasonable prices.
What you be your last word?
My last word would be I do not want anybody feeling unwelcomed here because the Grand Bazaar is the shop for the local community, and we are open everyday of week. We are open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 9pm and from 8am on Sundays to 7pm.