[NYT] Don’t Call It an ‘Ethnic’ Grocery Store

Not unless you’re gonna call ALL grocery stores ethnic.


Haha this is a funny coincidence — a new H-mart in my neighborhood just prompted this thread:

I wish Patel brothers would learn something from H-Mart. They can’t even get their act together on online ordering.


If this means the death to stuff like LaChoy, hallelujah!

It always cracks me up that one of the large international (Korean-owned) markets near me has an aisle with signage proclaiming “AMERICAN FOOD”


My H-Mart has a section called “International Foods”.

So meta.

Almost as if Deadpool named the aisles.

1 Like

I wish there were more Patel Bros. in the west coast.

Is it oreos and poptarts? Bc most “American” sections in supermarkets here.

Basically, yes. Plus Ragu sauce, mac and cheese boxes, etc. It is quite hilarious.


Pancake & brownie mix, shitty BBQ sauces, marshmallows…

1 Like

Is that the one near Lincoln Center? It’s open?

Right? Nice of them to put all of that crap that I do not have any interest in buying in a segregated aisle!

1 Like

I dont care for the term either, but I’m looking for a word that sums it up without being derogatory whilst still maintaining the separation from the mega supermarkets that cater to the middle of the demographic road.

Im fortunate to live near markets that specialize in foods favored by various cultures, so its an actual thing.

1 Like

My HMart calls those aisles “American”, too. Makes sense I guess to capture some of those kind of staple food sales, instead of having patrons run to Kroger next for the mac-n-cheese.

Growing up Korean in a very white town in RI, we’d call it the “normal grocery store” versus the “Korean store” (in Providence and East Providence). How weird is that?! Mom and dad did their best to fit in. My brother and I never wanted to go to the Korean store—we had to hold our noses sometimes near the smellier foods. But we were rewarded with Botan rice candy, which used to have fun little toys (now they have stickers—WTF?!).


We have pretty good Indian supermarkets here. If you live near Fremont, I can make a recommendation.

1 Like

Oy, I meant “regular grocery store,” not “normal.” That would be really weird.

The “Ethnic” label has been hashed and re-hashed over the years but nobody has come up with a better terms when referencing restaurants and stores serving primarily the needs of immmigrant communities and their descendants . I agree that international comes the closest, but I would not call a Korean or Thai or Haitian grocery store that - we do have some groceries in NY like Food Bazaar that try to be international in scope but there is a real estate as well as population concentration dimension. For example, there are a lot more such big establishments in Columbus Ohio where I spend time and which has plenty of real estate and easy drives to the supermarkets, which are abe to successfully to address multiple communities - african, filipino, korean, japanese, central and south american and which provide patrons with a vast and bewildering array of tubers, dried fish, meat specialties, greens and chiles (as well as an “American” aisle) reflecting the eye-opening range of needs of the different peoples who are now living there. These exist alongside large and specialized chinese, indian, korean, japanese, middle eastern and hispanic markets. I have yet to see stores quite this diverse in NYC where we have the privilege of experiencing specificity and the “ethnic” communities may be larger and more concentrated in specific areas.

It does seem like e-commerce is much more important for less concentrated ethnic communities, thai, malaysian etc or to support ventures like the tiny taiwanese store in E Williamsburgh that the article mentions.

1 Like

Why not? If the store is JUST Korean, you can call it a Korean store. But I think “International” works perfectly well for broader selections of goods.

The problem with “ethnic,” as has been exhaustively noted by me and others, is that it doesn’t mean catering to the needs of immigrant communities. It means not white, as if white is the default setting and everyone else is “ethnic.” I very much doubt that the groceries catering to the German immigrant community that used to be on the UES were ever referred to as “ethnic.”

1 Like