Our first visit in May was to Gurung Bazaar, meeting with owner Rajiv Gurung. Clad in the only version of his store’s t-shirt, Gurung took a bit of time to warm up. And that’s understandable, as we called, out of the blue, only a day earlier, asking if we could film a short documentary in his shop. Kinda random, no doubt.
Especially for an owner of a small corner confectionary. Gurung is interesting, because the stock ranges from the mundane (smokes and sodas) to the more esoteric (goat meat and curries). It’s a mix of old word and new, located just a few blocks from the International Institute, where Rajiv Gurung served as a caseworker for several years. Now stocking a variety of items for his central Asian base of customers, Gurung has also landed a couple of commercial accounts, supplying a pair of neighborhood restaurants. With his first day in business only coming in February, he’s already dreaming of expansion, taking over another wing of what had been the old Nettie’s Flower building, a business staple at the intersection of Chippewa and Grand for decades.
These days, the neighborhood’s gone through a variety of permutations and the immediate block is an example of that. Across the street from the Bazaar, an McDonald’s restaurant closed, only to be replaced by the short-term Mama Pho restaurant. Other storefronts have come-and-gone and, of course, a decade-and-change back the Sears store came down for senior housing, a move that forever altered the commercial makeup of the area. These days, more than a small amount of the buisnesses begun here are mom-and-pop operations started by New Americans. Gurung Bazaar fits into that profile well. In fact, business might be improved in the short-term by a tragedy struck upon another local concern, as the nearby Afghan Market recently burned, a scene visible from the front door of Gurung Bazaar.
It’s a bit cliche, of course, to highlight a business like this on the Fourth of July. That’s okay. We’ll take the charge.
If in the neighborhood, consider dropping and spending a dollar, or two, with Rajiv Gurung and his family. They’d appreciate it.
Thanks to Drew Canning, who suggested this place as a fitting subject. Our crew included director Tyler DePerro, with Sean Barber helping on the camera and Ben Harrison handling the audio. And thanks to Rajiv Gurung for taking our call; happy citizenship in 2011, sir.