Family finds pleasure in giving back
By Nick Meyer - The Arab American News | Friday, 05.30.2008, 01:31 PM

DEARBORN While most stores are only in business for one thing the bottom line Eastborn Market in Dearborn is a little bit different.

The market, located on the corner of Wyoming and Warren, has enjoyed their growth from a 1,000 square-foot store in 1987 to their current 13,000 square-foot store and the profits that come with it, but truth be told, their staff gets just as much satisfaction from helping the local community.

Donations to local schools, churches and mosques are a part of the routine for the market, and long-time owner Ali Berry has even been honored by the United Way with their Community Involvement Award for his contributions to the community.

What makes Eastborn Market so popular and causes people to drive in from as far away as Cleveland, Flint, and Kalamazoo is the way they cater to the Arab community. Many of the items they carry simply can't be found at a typical market or grocery store. The Arab community is well-represented, with grocery items like Lebanese-style cucumbers, yogurt, and qoosa squash as well as tons of different spices available to buy in bulk.

Other specialty items like Hispanic products, candies from Lebanon, and off-the-beaten path produce like the rapini vegetable, which resembles broccoli, are also brought in to add variety to the store's selection.

"We probably won't make money on them, but the customers like the variety," said Ali Berry, the grandson of the original owner who is now a manager at Eastborn.

Bulk foods such as white and brown rice, beans, and lentils are also available for purchase to add versatility to a home chef's repertoire.  Other items include frozen cakes and pies, other frozen foods like waffles and pancakes, fresh nuts and chocolates, and even an assortment of hookahs for home use.

Freshness is also a major selling point at Eastborn Market that keeps the cash registers humming. To ensure that all of the produce is fresh, trucks bring in new items six or seven days a week from Detroit produce terminals as well as the popular Eastern Market in the summer.

"We had one guy come in from Cleveland, he drove two hours to get here," said the younger Ali Berry. "He said 'I knew you had the best stuff and the best produce so I just had to drive up here to get some.'"

As is the tradition in the area with all of the produce markets, Wednesdays are discount days at Eastborn Market with prices slashed by 30-40%. It was a tradition started by other markets that looked to get rid of their aging produce, but Eastborn has no problems offering similar sales even though its produce is as fresh as possible.

Managing the massive store with its sprawling back room can be difficult at times, but the bond it helps forge between the workers is something special. Eastborn Market is almost entirely family-owned and operated, and while problems do crop up from time to time, relationships are also strengthened through hard work.

The store usually doesn't advertise much except for the occasional ad for a local event, but they don't have to because word-of-mouth is powerful enough to keep Eastborn Market thriving across all seasons.

The spring and summer months are usually the most popular as the store opens its outdoor flower section in time for Mother's Day, but with the kind of fresh produce the store offers and prices that are comparable to other places that can't offer the same quality, Eastborn Market has a steady stream of customers year-round.

But even with their current success, Eastborn Market continues to work with the customers every day to give them what they want and to further embed their business in the hearts and minds of the Dearborn community.

"We're always a work in progress, always trying to improve on things every day for the customers and the community," said the younger Berry. "They're the reason why we're here."

By Nick Meyer - The Arab American News

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