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An Expanding Grocery Store for New CNY Residents

An Expanding Grocery Store for New CNY Residents

The African & Caribbean Central Market will soon be finding a new address. Thanks to its growing clientele, the grocery store that specializes in groceries common to West African and Caribbean cuisine will now be located at 703 North Salina Street.

Roselinda Abbey, 38, owner of the market, is the only West African woman in the Syracuse area to own a grocery store that caters to the growing West African and Caribbean population.

Abbey travels to Ghana multiple times a year to bring back items that her customers miss, such as Malt soda and powdered mixes of fufu (pounded yam and cassava usually served in a stew). “I try to carry all African and Caribbean [products], but I’m mostly West African,” she said. “Eighty percent is West African, about 20 percent is Caribbean.”

Abbey’s growth is no surprise to those who follow immigration trends. The African-born population of the U.S. has roughly doubled every decade since 1970, according to the U.S. Census. The most significant increase was seen between 2000 and 2008 and from 2008-2010. New York State is home to the largest number of these ever-growing new Americans.

african and caribbean central market, northside up, lateshia beach

Abbey helping one of her loyal customers

Abbey said that she could see the potential when she opened up her shop 12 years ago. “The population, I said, was good enough for me to start. As soon as I opened, the population just keeps zooming. If you look at the statistic between 2002 to this day, it just has been increasing,” said Abbey who is Ghanaian and Togolese. “It has been good for my business.”

Abbey’s own story isn’t too different from her customers. At the age of 16, her mother relocated her and her siblings from Ghana to White Plains New York. “I missed home. I cried a lot. I wanted to go back,” she said.

Abbey said the language barrier was difficult for her at first and she missed the friendships that she had in Ghana. “The friendship. The food. Everything. It wasn’t like this. It was many years ago,” she said.

Like many of the African-born immigrants here in the state, Abbey obtained higher education and she worked as a nurse in White Plains before she decided to move to Syracuse. “I wanted a change out of New York City,” she said. “I’m still in New York, but this place is different from the New York I know.”

Change turned out to be good to Abbey who opened up grocery store locations in Syracuse and Rochester. Abbey’s mom would help her run the Rochester location, but business was too good and too time consuming at times for her, which led Abbey to close it down about seven months ago. “I was going to Rochester about twice a week to deliver,” she said. “I just want to be in one location. That’s why I’m expanding because now I’m bringing both stores into one.”

Abbey’s store has not only brought her customers, but it has also brought her notoriety among the African community in Syracuse. “I know all the Africans,” she laughed. “They know me more than I know them.”

Abbey said that she has entertained the thought of opening up a restaurant in her new location because she said it is another needed place in the area. But, the mother of three will hold off on such expansions until she gets settled in her new business location as she has settled into CNY.

africana and caribbean central market, northside up, lateshia beachum, grocery store

The old location at 740 North Salina Street

About The Author

Lateshia Beachum

Lateshia is a Columbia, South Carolina native. She was an AmeriCorps volunteer in her hometown, and she also volunteered in Ghana. She considers herself a survivor of insurance work. Her interests lie in culture, travel, food, fitness, and beauty.

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