By Michelle Holler:
Name: Aster Mekonnen
Languages Spoken: Amharic (mother tongue), English
Country of Origin: Ethiopia
My Journey to Buffalo: In Ethiopia, I finished high school and went on to embroidery/sewing School where I earned my diploma. I wanted a change in my life though so I came to America, as did a lot of my family. I now have family in America and back in Ethiopia who I still visit. I went to Ethiopia to visit my family in 2003 and in 2009.
I came to Buffalo in 2001. I came in winter and it was my first time seeing snow. I thought the snow looked beautiful but when I touched it, it was not so beautiful. Oh boy was it freezing!
I worked in multiple sewing factories before opening my shop in the Bazaar. The labor was very intense at the factories, so I could no longer do it.
My Shop in the West Side Bazaar: In my shop, I want to showcase my culture. I sell Ethiopian coffee by the cup, which I roast and grind myself. I order all of my coffee beans from my country because I know which kinds are the best. I also sell the coffee beans, along with dessert, tea and fresh fruit juices such as pineapple, strawberry, mango, and mixed fruit. In addition, you can also find cold sandwiches, salads and Ethiopian spices at my shop.
Future Plans: I would someday like to open an Ethiopian coffee house. Everything from the coffee to the desserts to the look of the space would be of Ethiopian style.
The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213