A new business in Keene is offering online ordering and weekly pickup for specialty international grocery items, with plans to open a brick-and-mortar location if there is sufficient customer demand in the coming months.
The Keene International Market launched in mid-January, according to owner Chuda Mishra, 32, of Swanzey. The market has an online inventory of grocery products from countries including India, Nepal, Mexico, Peru and England, with plans to add more items as the business grows.
Customers can place orders throughout the week, and pick them up on Saturdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m. outside of Fire Dog Breads at 79 Emerald St.
"Our main mission is to offer authentic international food products to the central Connecticut River Valley," said Mishra, who also works as a truck driver for Hamshaw Lumber.
Mishra was born in Bhutan, but moved to a refugee camp in Nepal when he was 3. His family moved to the U.S. in 2009, first to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, then to the Hartford, Conn., area before he settled in the Monadnock Region in 2014.
"When we moved to the Monadnock Region, I was having a hard time finding international products," Mishra said. "And I met with some international residents, people from here who were interested in different food."
The other area expats Mishra met were regularly traveling two or three hours to find food that reminded of them of home, he said. So, over the course of the past three years, he has been planning to open a business like the Keene International Market. The COVID-19 pandemic altered those plans slightly, Mishra added, but over the winter, he and his wife, Jennifer Carroll, who is also the director of education at the Historical Society of Cheshire County, decided it was time to give it a try.
"Maybe this is the time that we can start online and see how things will go," Mishra said. "If things go well, then we might be opening a store. ... If we see more people interested, then we will definitely have a space."
That decision, Mishra said, probably will come in the next two or three months. In the meantime, he said the business is off to a good start, filling about 15 orders in the first three weeks of operations.
For more information, visit www.keeneinternationalmarket.com.