When you come to a shop that you don’t run into a language barrier, and you can say what you want and the person running the business understand you, it makes everything totally comfortable.
— Mahadi Hassan Moussa on Community Halal Store
Anyone who’s open a business, you open it for your own family, for your own money. But that family they help everybody. So it’s not only store. It’s a community store.
—Ahmed Omar on Community Halal Store
I always dreamt since I was young of working for myself. And I wanted to achieve that to have more freedom and provide somehow to myself and the community at the same time. It’s rough because I always work hard in my life and I always worked two jobs.
—Muyisa Mutume, owner, M. Square Vermont
Vermont is great, and it’s good to come and kind of integrate into another culture. But having a little place that could remind you of home is very important, and I think it’s excruciating if we don’t have stuff like this around here. Vermont is great, and it’s good to come and kind of integrate into another culture. But having a little place that could remind you of home is very important, and I think it’s excruciating if we don’t have stuff like this around here.
—Faraja Achinda on M. Square Vermont
And thankful for community for supporting all the journey. It’s a two-way favor, and I’m here for them, but nothing would be done without my customers. Just being thankful, what the country [I] was coming from and kind of living a dream.
—Dado Vujanovic, owner, Euro Market
Usually, we went to buy stuff in Canada, but since they opened in this market and it’s like in the Covid, I think it’s much better for us. They sell good stuff too like in the back home.
—Francis Mabawidi on M. Square Vermont
And when the customer coming into my store, I ask him, “What you like?” He told me, “ I like this item.” I bring this item. From another state, I make order, I search in the Google, wherever it is I find this, and I bring something. I bring oil for cassava. Everything.
—Ahmed Aref, manager, Nada International Market
We’re all here for a better life, dreams, and we need to support each other in any possible way we can. I came here when I was 18 years old, as an immigrant, and I became a citizen. I feel a connection because I know what they went through when they came here.
—Isela Martin O’brien on RGS Nepali market
This is the diversity that this country is built on, and they are newcomers, and they bring all this fantastic culture. What they bring just enriches and brings more wealth to the United States of America. And these guys are Iraqis, but they bring food from all over the world, from their world. These markets are fantastic, they’re beautiful, I really love them.
—Anonymous on Nada International Market
The More than a Market project was informed by a method of inquiry called collaborative ethnography. From project conceptualization to fieldwork to exhibit development, we have sought to understand experience from the perspective of those to whom that experience belongs. Decisions were made in collaboration with market owners and customers. In all cases, we have followed their guidance and wishes to share their words, photographs, or names—or not—as they chose. The authors of this project are the people whose words and faces you see here.
We use the terms “immigrant” and “refugee” because they are factual, describing an age-old phenomenon—the voluntary or forced movement of people around the globe. The term “new American” is comfortable for some, but it is less comfortable for others. In the words of one of our market owner partners, being called a “new” American feels like being relegated to a different category of American.