Businesses Bringing Ethnic Communities Together

A neat, little phenomenon I noticed, when it comes to ethnic businesses, is how they unite ethnic communities. Either, there's a large community present in a town or neighborhood or the business itself brings in ethnicities that were not present before.

In Chicago and other major cities, neighborhoods are often classified by the prominent ethnicities that live there. Koreatown in Chicago is located in Albany Park with restaurants, shops, and even karaoke bars in surrounding neighborhoods. Almost half of the enterprises, located on Lawrence Avenue, are Korean owned. A lot of young Koreans flock to this area in Chicago, where these businesses provide a comfortable atmosphere for college-aged Koreans. A little north of Chicago, more Koreans are settling in the suburbs. In Niles, Ill., a supermarket chain found throughout the United States called Super H Mart (which the "H" stands for Han ah Reum or "arm full of groceries") came to the Chicagoland area, where the second largest population of Asian people are located.

Super H Mart also came to Naperville, Ill., which has a greater Asian population today. Naperville is a western suburb of Chicago, and one of the richest areas close to the city. This is one of the examples of a business bringing in an ethnic group or groups and uniting them.

  Courtesy of City Data

Courtesy of City Data

Supermarkets that cater to a specific ethnic group really fascinate me because regular American chain stores don't offer the same foods and products for Asians. Most markets targeted toward Asians are usually really small, family businesses that don't have a variety of spices and herbs, and also don't sell to all Asian groups in one place. Super H Mart does sell more than just Korean products and groceries, which broadens the scope of shoppers in order to bring in more business.

In contrast to the Korean Super H Mart, there is a Japanese supermarket called Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, Ill. and also with locations primarily on the U.S. west coast. Mitsuwa unites the Japanese community that heavily populates Arlington Heights and their surrounding suburbs. It's an example of an enterprise coming to an already well-established population of people. This store sells produce and primarily Japanese products, which may come off as a little less welcoming to other Asians in the area.

  Courtesy of Mitsuwa

Courtesy of Mitsuwa

Since markets are the most important businesses for specific ethnic groups. I plan to cover Super H Mart for my business profile feature. I do believe this model makes for a more interesting peek into a specific demographic, and I'm intrigued by this store's method of incorporating other ethnic groups to make a strong business for themselves.

My coverage of Super H Mart in Naperville, Ill.