Convenience store opens on Washington Avenue

The owner expects the U community to provide steady business.

Ahmed Mohamed, owner of the newly opened U of M Market, rings up a customer in his store Friday. Mohamed is a native of Eritrea and is a new father of three.

Image by Simon Guerra

Ahmed Mohamed, owner of the newly opened U of M Market, rings up a customer in his store Friday. Mohamed is a native of Eritrea and is a new father of three.

by Callie Sacarelos

Ahmed Mohamed has been a University of Minnesota custodian for 11 years. He has a wife, three kids and now two stores in the Twin Cities.

In mid-June, Mohamed opened U of M Market, a convenience store in Stadium Village.

The store, located on Washington Avenue Southeast next to Noodles & Company, offers snacks, drinks and instant meal options.

It will also sell a small selection of accessories like pens and paper.

Mohamed said the store’s location is ideal for hungry students and faculty who don’t have time to travel longer distances to grab a quick snack.

Alexandra Schefter, who takes the bus to her job at a biology lab nearby, said although she’d never heard of the market, she would check it out in the future.

“I live in Uptown, so this would definitely be easier for me to grab fruit or something,” she said.

Before the market, Hot Diggity Dog and Village Pizza filled the space for short stints, but both failed due to financial reasons, according to previous Minnesota Daily articles.

Mohamed, who also owns Beyond Tobacco in St. Paul, cleans in Moos Tower and said he used to frequent Harvard Market in Stadium Village.

His 30-minute breaks left just enough time to stop by the market and grab a snack. Any other location, he said, was too far away.

Harvard Market used to have two locations in Stadium Village; one on the corner of Harvard Street and Washington Avenue Southeast, and one located three blocks east on Ontario Street Southeast.

Brad Mateer, the former owner, said rent was “way too high,” so he closed one store in 2007 but continued to run Harvard Market East until 2011.

When Harvard Market closed, Mohamed and his co-workers had to buy food from the vending machines, which was inconvenient.

Mateer wasn’t aware of the new market opening, but said he hopes it does well.

“I’m happy that he’s open. Stadium Village needs a smaller place like that,” he said, “It’s going to be a great location for him if he can maintain the volume and if the rent is low enough.”

Mateer said customer traffic in the area was great, but he worries that Mohamed will run into problems when the CVS Pharmacy opens a few blocks away in the street-level space of Stadium Village Flats.

The pharmacy, which is scheduled to open in August at the earliest, has a grocery section that Mateer said caters toward college students, with prices cheaper than what he was able to offer.

When Mohamed signed the lease for the space, he said he was aware of the future CVS.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “This is just for local people — faculty and students.”

Nancy Rose Pribyl, Stadium Village Commercial Association president, said with the exception of the Metro Petro gas station located down University Avenue Southeast, the area is experiencing a “dry spell” in terms of grocery options.

Providing community members with more accessibility to grocers is a positive addition to the area, she said.

Mohamed said he plans to expand his offerings based on customer needs. He ordered a cooler and microwave to serve more products after students requested that the store supply milk and hot sandwiches.

Mohamed said he hopes foot traffic from University students, faculty and staff, along with people from the planned Stadium Village light-rail station, will provide enough business for his store to succeed.