When I first walked into Gloria Ofori’s “Glory Market” on Elmwood Avenue, I was immediately reminded of Lexington Market’s original location on Lexington Avenue. Not that it was jam-packed, wall-to-wall with market goods, it was more an overall vibe that triggered the recollection.
There’s a very humble authenticity about the market, which stocks a healthy array of products that are primarily associated with African culture. At the same time, there are everyday sundries that one might not ever imagine had anything to do with African culture. “It’s amazing to think how similar we are when it comes to different cultures,” Gloria pointed out. “We all use canned tomatoes, so I stock them here. At the same time, I want to introduce people to items that they might not be familiar with, like palm oil that is indigenous to Africa. I also make sure that I listen to people’s recommendations… I’m always adding products to the shelves.”
Since Glory Market first opened in 2017, I have stopped in a couple of times. Each time I go back, I find that the shelves are filled with more and more items. Taking a look around during my last visit, I spied canned corned beef, canned mackerel in tomato sauce with chili, honey, couscous grains, semolina, yams, beans (black ,red kidney, and black-eyed peas), dried peanuts, pounded yam flour, and fufu flour (used to make dumplings for soup).
As I explored the market, I asked Gloria about her history. She told me that she was born in Ghana. At ten years of age, her family moved to NYC, where she lived for 16 years before heading off to school in Brockport, and then to Rutgers University for her masters. At the time, her younger brother was was going to school at UB, so she would come to visit. She liked Buffalo, and felt that she could bring something to the city that it was lacking. She wanted to open a market that would appeal to all of the students that were coming to Buffalo, while offering the residents products that might not be readily available to them. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” said Gloria. “I wanted to bring aspects of NYC and African culture to Elmwood. I want everyone to feel welcome – that’s why I am always listening to hear what they have to say.”
After poking around for a bit, I began to pick up some supplies for my trek home, which included a Mexican Coke, ginger cookies, and a loaf of sugar bread, which was baked by a Ghanaian woman who was living in Toledo, OH. “She supplies to the African markets in NYC,” Gloria told me. “She also makes butter bread [pointing]. It’s my fastest selling product – people love it.”
Other provisions sold at the market include oils, spices, fish and shrimp powder, black pepper sauce, melon seeds, jerk seasoning, hot sauce, coconut milk, cream crackers, digestives wheat cookies, shortbread, plantain chips, Vita Malt, and Malta Guinness (non-alcohol). There’s also a frozen section, featuring red snapper, salmon, tilapia, goat meat, frozen veggies, and peeled/dried bonga fish, among others.
Aside from the food selections, other products include body wash, shea butter, cocoa butter, hair extensions (Gloria is modeling in photo), nylon sponges for bathing (ask Goria about them), black soap, and aloe butter. “These are products that the students absolutely love,” Gloria mentioned. “The cosmetic section does very well. I also carry some imported artifacts from Africa, including jewelry. I wanted to make sure that there was a good mix of products in the market. Some day I would like to have a little kitchen in here, so that I can prepare some dishes for people. I think that there’s a real need for African cooking in the city.”
Personally, I’m super happy to see Gloria and her market on Elmwood, and I plan on supporting her whenever I can. I am also compiling a shortlist of supplies that I think would fit well in her store. In a day when anyone can go online and order shea butter and ginger cookies online, I’m happy to take a walk to my neighborhood market to support a young entrepreneur. In the end, if enough of us support her, we will all reap the benefits.
Glory Market | 472 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo, New York 14222 | (716) 710-8370 | Facebook