Golden Flower Grocery is a little store with a big heart.
Since 2016, Pawnay Htoo has worked hard to bring the unique and often hard-to-find foods of Asia to Thunder Bay. When Pawnay first came to the city, she had difficulty finding ingredients they needed. Some items were available at the Superstore, but not much.
They would get friends and family to buy the products that were not available here when visiting bigger cities, eventually stocking up yearly at stores in Winnipeg.
“I felt like maybe we could have at least one store in Thunder Bay to provide these products for people who need it,” explains Pawnay. “So that’s why I started this business.”
Golden Flower Grocery, on Court Street South in the city’s north end, has a wide array of products available.
“At first when I started, I didn’t know what people wanted, what people were looking for because we have other immigrants from other countries too. A lot of customers help me by asking, ‘Can you find me this? Can you find me that?’ So that’s how we grow.”
International students really appreciate the selection at Golden Flower Grocery, well stocked with snacks, hotpots, and hard to find vegetables.
Pawnay has multiple suppliers to meet the demands of her international customers. The petite shop can only accommodate so much, so she has to place smaller orders, more often, which can be a challenge.
Lately, the bigger box stores have also expanded their international food options. Golden Flower is a tiny store by comparison, but it beats out the large grocery chains when it comes to customer service, convenience and quality.
Pawnay helps her customers not only find the groceries they are looking for, but how to use many them.
“I think one day I will have to do a short video to put on my Facebook page, ‘How to Cook Red Curry, Green Curry’ because I have all the ingredients. I know the Thai dishes.”
In the future, she hopes to expand to more frozen grab and go foods. Since the store is a small space, this will involve a lot of organizing.
“For me, a small store is better than a bigger store. Nowadays, everybody is in a rush, they just want to go in, grab, and then go home and cook it. When we go to a big store, we have to wait in long lines. We try to support local too.”
Golden Flower is offering homemade kimchi, frozen wontons, spring rolls, shui mai and more - everything is ready to go. Customers just need to cook or reheat it themselves, which is the easy part.
Golden Flower Grocery is open for business at 65 Court St South from Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can reach them by phone at (807) 344-1182 if you have any questions or product requests, they will be happy to help.