New Asian Market Opens in Northwest Austin
Chonse Elms says when she came to Austin in 1972 from Korea, Austin had little to offer Asians.
“They ain’t got nothing,” Elms remembers. “No rice. No cabbage, no nothing.”
Ordering red snapper at the fish counter at the newly launched Hana World Market in Northwest Austin, Elms said she’s proud to see another Asian market open.
“Koreans (are) not that big here,” she said. “But I’m so happy and proud — yes.”
The Hana World Market is open for business, but store co-owner Yunhui Lee is running a soft launch. Most of the shelves are neatly stocked, but there are few empty areas. Lee points to a corner of the store that’s still under construction.
“This will be our demonstration area with our packaged food,” Lee said. “On the weekend, we are going to do samplings so people can get a taste of it.” Lee is also working on building a food court with a bakery and small eateries that will feature foods from Japan, Thailand, Korea and China.
Lee and her brother own the store together. Their parents owned a small Korean food market on Lamar and Airport Blvd., but they are now retiring and have closed the business. That’s when the two children decided to open Hana World Market on Parmer Ln.
“In this 78727 area code, there’s an 11.8 percent Asian population,” Lee said. ” It’s the most dense zip code area with Asian population in Austin.”
Lee thinks part of the reason for that could be the store’s proximity to Samsung. The Korean electronics company’s Texas campus is only a five minute drive from the store. But the Asian population is growing in other parts of Austin as well. The 2010 Census shows that Asians make up 6.3 percent of Austin’s population, a larger share than any other Texas city. It also grew by 60 percent over the last 10 years.
The store has a modern grocery supermarket feel to it. Signs hang over the aisles describing the foods in both English and Korean. Lee said she is focused on delivering quality customer service and making it inviting to other nationalities.
“Right now, we’re filling a void because the biggest (Asian) market in Austin is MT Market on Lamar but they are predominately Chinese and Vietnamese,” Lee said. “There’s another Korean market on Lamar, so right now there are just three main Asian markets serving Austin.”
The Hana World Market will have a grand opening on the 21st. And if the Asian demographic trends in Austin continue, more stores like it could be hosting grand openings in the future.