International Grads Start Specialty Grocery Store
Story by Marcia Arpin, Photos by Ryan Hill
Deepak Bonda and Heena Bhataria independently came to Canada to attend Confederation College. As students, they adapted to our climate and countless other barriers and in time, they each learned to love this city—and just before graduation, each other. Although they never anticipated meeting or staying in Thunder Bay, the past six years have created a different destiny for this newlywed couple.
The experience of being an international student coming to our city can be difficult for reasons beyond our climate. Favourite foods and ingredients are often hard or impossible to find locally. Many students have developed a network to purchase desired items from out of town. Often, having these items shipped to Thunder Bay inflates the prices, which would strain any student’s budget.
Embracing their ability to take risks and seize adventure, Bonda and Bhataria started daydreaming about a local specialty grocery store. Their store would include products from all regions of India. These daydreams were encouraged by others who recognized the necessity of their idea for our city, and transformed into building blocks to make their dream a reality. For the past two years, they have researched an extensive number of quality products and discovered the best prices. Their new store, Land of Spices, finally brings together frozen foods, pantry favourites, fresh items, and snack foods to Thunder Bay.
After their grand opening on October 3, these excited new business owners are happy to greet customers daily from 9 am until 10 pm. The store at 311 Victoria Ave East is designed to create a gathering place for everyone. Bonda and Bhataria are willing to share cooking tips, delicious recipe ideas, and education about their inventory to best create memorable meals for any customer’s home. This young couple says they are eager to expand their services and recognize the potential to grow their business to best meet the needs and diversity of our community. Every visitor to the store is encouraged to offer feedback, ideas, and their own dreams for this emerging business.