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Business sees opportunity in offering authentic South Asian and Indian groceries in Belleville

By Rhythm Rathi [1] and Maria Toews [2]

BELLEVILLE – A five month old grocery store is offering  a vast product range for the South-Asian and Indian community — products that were previously only available by travelling to the Greater Toronto area.

The store called The Desi Basket [3] at 308, North Front St. is owned by two young men Pranay Shah and Dhrumil Soni who came as immigrants and are now proudly serving their community with their kitchen supplies and customer service.

“That is what we are popular for, our customer service,” Shah said.

The business has now been running for almost five months and has seen a good response from the local community too.

“Not only the Indian students, (but) all of the local people here also explore our products,” said Soni

He also mentioned that the business has been steadily growing with the arrival of new students every semester.

The main purpose of opening a store like this in Belleville was to attract the customer base that travelled to the Greater Toronto Area for purchasing authentic Indian products.

“We basically wanted to give the same feeling that they have everything that they are craving for, looking for, especially in Belleville which is far away from the GTA,” said Soni,

“The people or students who do not have the transportation facilities or cars, it is (easier for them) to buy here the same stuff that they get in GTA,” he added.

One of the owners is always available at the store said Shah. And he says he’s open to students approaching them for any guidance about settling in the country or request them to make a particular product available at the store.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Shah-1.m4a [4]

“We are here as a big brother,” said Shah. 

Jyoti Mokaria  visits The Desi Basket with hopes to find her desired fruit Sapodilla. 

“Today I specially came to find Cheeku, which is a Sapodilla I guess we call it, which I haven’t seen in any other store, so I am just going to try my luck.”

Desi Basket plans to open another branch in Peterborough said Pranay Shah the owner. Photo by Maria Toews.

Het Dave of Belleville is pursuing his studies online from St. Lawrence College in Kingston.

He said he is happy that there is a store like this in Belleville.

He mentions items like whole coconuts are not available anywhere else but at this store.

“There are many more things like curry leaves, some spices and Indian snacks which we only get here.”

Dave added, “I feel that Belleville really needed that and it’s great that this store is here.”

Although the store is located opposite Freshco [5], the owners say the Desi Basket still gets lots of business.

 “The product range that I have, I would say Freshco will not be able to meet it,” said Soni.

“Yes there are some products that Freshco can deliver at a cheaper price, but I will still not take it as a disbenefit or disadvantage,” he said. 

Shah said that they are still exploring the customer base and more product variety is on the way.

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 Map by Rhythm Rathi