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 is set to open its doors this week 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.
For the past several weeks, he's been building out the small storefront.
“There’s no Burmese markets in Cleveland,” he said. “There’s one in Akron, but none in Cleveland.”
“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.
Many of these residents are "Karen," a mostly-Christian minority group making up only 7 percent of the 50 million Burmese citizens, but nearly 79 percent of the 150,000 Burmese refugees living in Thai camps.
The items at Oo’s store will be sort of a comfort food, a reminder of his customers’ former home.
“A lot of my people live in Lakewood,” he said. “They don’t have a car, they don’t have a license. So this is close for people to come to my store."
The Burmese Asian Market is expected to open this week.