Interview by Michelle Holler:
BRO is featuring a series of interviews that will help to tell the stories of the people who have opened businesses at the West Side Bazaar. The objective of the series is to highlight the compelling journeys that each shop owner made, so that we may become familiar with the owners and their businesses.
Name: Ma Theint
Languages Spoke: Burmese, English
Origin: Mandalay, Burma
My journey to Buffalo:
I am the proud daughter of Mr. Thara (Maung Thara), who is a famous writer in my homeland. My father escaped Burma to Thailand with his youngest son. He then ended up being placed in Buffalo. I followed in his footsteps and left Burma for Thailand in 2001. Other family members did the same, but we had to leave Burma one by one and in secret because the military watched for people who were trying to escape. I applied for refugee status when I arrived in Thailand, and then had to wait 3 years to get resettlement. Finally, in 2004 I was called upon and placed with my father in Buffalo. I now live with my husband and my mother.
My Shop in the West Side Bazaar:
When I arrived in Buffalo, I worked as a home health aide but I realized I wanted to start my own business before I retired. I started the business selling arts and crafts from my country such as gem paintings, lacquerware, traditional puppets, and Burmese musical instruments. After three months, and just before the Burmese New Year festival, I expanded my shop and started selling clothes, accessories, and religious items.
My Future Plans:
My long-term dream would be to open an Asian Bazaar, like a mini-mall. In my Asian mall, I would like to have an arts and crafts shop, a shop that sells house ware items. I would also like to have a clothing and jewelry shop, a beauty salon, a food court and a tailor. I would like to create hand-made dresses, the fabric would come from my country, but the design would be geared towards the American style. I have big dreams!
The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213