As a small business tax consultant, Moses Onwubiko expected to field dozens of client questions every day. He didn’t expect so many of those questions to be about bitter kola and ugu leaves.
“My clients were constantly asking me where they could find an African food store that was operated by an African and I realized that there wasn’t one nearby. While a couple stores had African products in stock, the staff didn’t necessarily have experience using them.” And so, in August 2004, Global Food Market opened its doors in East Liberty, selling African, Caribbean, and Latin groceries and sundries.
A few years ago, Moses sold the Global Food Market name and retail space, deciding to take time off from the business. After a short break, he was ready to open the store under a new name, Global Food Pittsburgh, but he needed a new location.
The process of finding a retail space was difficult and Moses began to feel discouraged. He was discussing his struggle with a Global Food Market customer, when she mentioned that her husband, Gordon, would be able to help.
“Gordon” turned out to be Gordon Manker, Business Development Specialist at the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC). “Once I got into contact with Gordon, he helped me right away by giving me a list of potential locations. I wouldn’t have found my new location in Wilkinsburg without his help.”
When deciding where to open Global Food Pittsburgh, an important factor to Moses was accessibility. “The transportation system in Wilkinsburg is great. Many of my customers are located on the east side of town, and there are so many bus routes available to them.” Many of Moses’ customers are college students from local campuses like CMU and Pitt, who utilize the bus system to get to his store quickly.
Global Food Pittsburgh’s new Wilkinsburg location on Penn Ave has been open for about three months. “The people in Wilkinsburg have been so welcoming and very supportive of my business. They want me to succeed.” Customers both new and old value Global Food Pittsburgh’s unique inventory and helpful staff. “Many people that come into the store need recipes in addition to the ingredients, so I try to guide them on how to make certain dishes.”
If you’re in the mood for kenkey or egusi soup, look no further than Global Food Pittsburgh and Moses Onwubiko. He plans to have a grand opening for the store this spring, but not without the help of the WCDC. “I’ll be in contact with them again to see how they might help. They are a great resource.”