With a recent influx of Burmese refugees
living in Lakewood, there’s now a market for the comforts of their former home.
The Burmese Asian Market opened its doors last month at 13439 Detroit Avenue in the space most recently occupied by Martha's Beauty Salon.
Kyaw Swar Oo (pronounced “ew”) is himself a Burmese refugee. He’s lived in the US for three years, and runs a couple of take-out sushi spots in the Cleveland area.
He and his wife, Naw Kleinn Nan, own the store, featuring an array of Asian food and traditional Burmese clothing. But you’ll also find American staples on the shelves — think ketchup and mustard.
“There’s no Burmese markets in Cleveland,” he said, adding that customers have come to the new store from all over Northeast Ohio.
“A lot of people came here as refugees.”
Many of them fled refugee camps in Thailand, set up for ethnic Burmese minorities politically and religiously persecuted at the hands of the ruling military junta.
According to a report released by Refugee Response, a Northeast Ohio non-profit helping refugees assimilate in the region, 115 Burmese refugees resettled in Lakewood between July 2007 and January 2010.
Many more are believed to have come since then.
The US Census Bureau puts Lakewood’s “other Asian” population at 374, more than double what it was in 2000.
The items at Oo’s store will be sort of a comfort food, a reminder of his customers’ former home.
However, many of his new customers aren’t Asian at all.
“The community has really been supportive so far,” Oo added. “We hope more people come to shop here.”
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.