Nine locally-owned grocers working to serve members of diaspora communities

These specialty grocery stores serve diaspora community members as well as those looking to expand their palates.
Tobi wears a green T-shirt and stands behind the counter at her specialty grocery store, O&A. O&A serves members of the African diaspora community.
Oluwatobi Akinwumi, known as Tobi, stands in O&A Convenience on Tranquille Road, which she co-owns. Kyra Grubb/ The Wren

Ahead of the holidays, The Wren readers enjoyed retail round-ups that encouraged community members to support local businesses, specifically Indigenous-owned and women-owned businesses.

But Kamloops has even more locally-owned storefronts to visit, including those serving specific cultures and cuisines. We’ve rounded up a list of nine local specialty grocery stores serving diaspora communities here in town.

The word diaspora refers to a group of people with shared cultural identities who live somewhere other than the place where their culture originated. 

Whether you’re hoping to find ingredients and products from your own culture or would like to try a new cuisine, here’s a round-up of specialty grocery businesses worth checking out.

O&A Convenience, 205 Tranquille Rd.

Colourful beaded bracelets on display at O&A Convenience, an African-owned grocer serving African diaspora communities in Kamloops.
Coral beaded bracelets, as seen on the top row of bracelets available at O&A, hold significant meaning in Nigerian culture. Red and orange beads, like the beads seen here, are highly sought after. Kyra Grubb/ The Wren

Nigerian-owned and operated, O&A Convenience is infusing the North Shore with African essentials that can’t be found at most local grocery or convenience stores. 

Oluwatobi Akinwumi and co-owner Paul stock the store with products like milk, butter and eggs but ensure customers have access to African products, too. Kamloopsians can also find items like braiding hair, bonnets and the traditional beaded bracelets Oluwatobi says Nigerian women wear on their wedding day.

Rows of packaged hair for braiding hang in O&A Convenience.
Braiding hair is available at O&A Convenience on the North Shore. Kyra Grubb / The Wren

Oluwatobi says, “[O&A] isn’t just for Africans. We try to make sure that we’re stocking items that all kinds of people need.” She says when planning the business, she wanted to create an inclusive space where Kamloopsians of various cultures could stop in and shop.

She says her clientele is diverse, given the store’s location. 

“We get lots of people who come in after dropping their kids at daycare, plenty of people who work in the healthcare sector and lots of university students who are now living on the North Shore.”

Oluwatobi also owns Tobilicious, a West African restaurant right next door that is currently under renovation but will reopen this spring. 

Kamloopsians can check out O&A Convenience, located at 205 Tranquille Rd., Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

East Stuff Grocery, 1023A McGill Rd.

East Stuff Grocery stocks a wide variety of Chinese, Japanese and Korean products, just to name a few, plus plenty of cooking tools and utensils specific to those cuisines. Located just steps from Thompson Rivers University, the specialty grocery store stocks frozen dumplings, ramen, ingredients for hot pot, seaweed and sauces. 

Need help differentiating labels or advice on what ingredients to buy? East Stuff Grocery employees are always more than happy to offer a helping hand.

East Stuff is open at 1023A McGill Rd. from Monday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cheng Kwong Grocery, 864 8th St.

One reviewer calls Cheng Kwong Grocery “a steamboat of Asian cuisine.” 

Located on the North Shore, this little shop is an absolute emporium. From unique candy flavours to fresh produce and endless noodle varieties, there is something for everyone. Reviewers also say the owner, Sophie, is a friendly face and more than a helpful hand. 

Cheng Kwong Grocery is open every day except Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 864 8th St.

Gary’s European Sausage & Deli, 750 Fortune Rd.

Gary’s European Sauage & Deli has been around since 1978. Located just off Fortune Drive, the Deli offers custom sausages, cold cuts, deli platters, frozen foods and European grocery staples. 

According to the deli’s website, owner Gerhard “Gary” Gemsa honed his trade at a sausage school in Germany, followed by an apprenticeship during the 1960s. After immigrating to Canada in the 1970s, Gemsa opened up the deli Kamloopsians know and love today. 

You can check out this German deli at 750 Fortune Rd. from Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Fratelli Foods, 223 Victoria St.

Mario wear a grey shirt and burgundy apron that says Fratelli Foods. He is standing behind the deli counter at Fratelli's, a local specialty grocery store that serves members of the Italian diaspora community.
Co-owner Mario Pietramala prepares for a busy day ahead at Fratelli Foods. He stands behind the deli counter, where ingredients are prepped daily to ensure deli sandwiches taste fresh and delicious. Kyra Grubb/ The Wren

Fratelli Foods, owned by brothers Mario and Peter Pietramala, is a long-time downtown favourite. 

Established over 25 years ago, Fratelli’s stocks locally grown produce and a unique selection of Italian foods. Whether you need a block of parmesan, freshly made pasta, tapenade, canned San Marzano tomatoes or a quality bottle of extra virgin olive oil, Fratelli’s has you covered. The downtown business is also well known for its delicious deli sandwiches, soups, salads, grab-and-go lunches and a rotating menu of hot foods. 

Fratelli’s at 223 Victoria St. is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FraserCart Indian Store, 795 McGill Rd. #103

FraserCart stocks over 15,000 products and 200 varieties of spices, making it a one-stop shop for Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Pakistani dishes. FraserCart urges customers to ask questions of their friendly staff who speak Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalam and Tamil. 

FraserCart Indian Store is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at 795 McGill Rd. #103.

Margie’s Asian Fiesta Mart, 519 Tranquille Rd #3

Margie’s Asian Fiesta Mart is the only Filipino grocer in Kamloops. The store is packed with unique snacks, drinks, noodles, canned goods, sauces and other specialty items like seafood and cooking utensils. Margie even makes made-to-order homemade cakes with popular Filipino flavours like ube, a purple yam. 

You can find Margie’s Asian Fiesta Mart at 519 Tranquille Rd #3 Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Dede Afro Caribbean Market, 542 Tranquille Rd.

Owned by husband and wife Enoch and Matilda Dugbatey, Dede Afro Caribbean Market opened just last year and has since been providing Ghanaian products sourced directly from Ghana when possible. 

The market, named after the couple’s three-year-old daughter Dede, stocks a variety of unique products, including food, clothing and beauty supplies. Dede Afro Caribbean Market stocks an assortment of frozen fish, goat meat, oxtails, beef hooves and other animal products that are key ingredients used in Ghanaian cooking. 

Kamloopsians can stop in at 542 Tranquille Rd. and check the market out Monday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Daana Paani – The Indian Grocery Store, 414 Seymore St.

Umang Rastogi stands behind the counter at Daana Paani, a local specialty grocery store that serves members of the Indian diaspora community. Umang wears a green shirt that reads "caution, argo gamer."
Employee and TRU student Umang Rastogi waits to greet customers at Daana Paani, located at 414 Seymore St. Kyra Grubb/ The Wren

Daana Paani describes itself as an ethnic grocery store offering a diverse range of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Sri Lankan products. Located within the heart of downtown, this little store stocks everything you’d need to create Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Reviewers rave that the store’s “Chaat Bar,” stocked with freshly made authentic Indian street food, is a must-try. 

Co-owner Harpreet Singh says he had experience running a similar business back in India, but after earning a business degree at Thompson Rivers University, he decided to put his skills to use here in town.

Harpreet says he noticed a considerable gap in the local market and wanted to fill it. Before opening his store, he says it was hard to find a lot of the ingredients needed to cook his favourite dishes here in town. 

“That’s why we stock a wide variety of products and carry a lot of different brands that you can’t find at your average grocery store,” he says. “If you’re fond of Indian food or are interested in cooking it at home, we are more than happy to suggest recipes and help you find the perfect ingredients.”

Harpreet also urges students from India to come in and shop.

“It’s a home away from home,” he says. 

The store at 414 Seymore St. is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with fresh meals sold from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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