Client Focus: Al-Nassir International Market

A store’s expansion creates new openings for internationally inspired local food

At independent grocery store Al-Nassir International Market in West Springfield, you can find imported goods, homemade prepared food, home products, and—after working with the Franklin County CDC—halal meats. Halal food is food that adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.

A stroll through the aisles provides shoppers with specialty and hard-to-find options ranging from shelf-stable date syrup and rose water to refrigerated items such as the thick yogurt-cheese, labneh. Freshly baked Turkish bread was coming out of the oven on the day we visited, and bags of store-made Iraqi bread were at the cash register, the ideal impulse buy.

Al-Nassir, owned by Abdullah S. Nassir, has been a center for the community since its opening in West Springfield in 2018. While Abdullah was not present on a recent visit, his brother Abdalaziz showed us around.

Despite its location in a city with low- to moderate-income earners, and an 18% poverty rate, the store has been profitable. A recent sampling showed 68% of monthly sales were made through SNAP.

In 2020, the store recorded nearly $1 million in sales. Abdullah had a vision that his store could grow with the right investment, and he projected $1.34 million in sales for 2023. Abdullah worked with the Franklin County CDC’s lending department to improve financial recordkeeping and payroll systems, as well as evaluate the store’s fitness for taking on debt. He received a loan to expand the store by 25%, to 4,000 square feet of retail space, by leasing a storefront bay next door in same building. He then made an opening from this new space, which houses the halal meat counter, into his existing grocery store.

The funds also went to purchase coolers, shelving, freezers, and meat grinder for this new halal meat area. Beef and lamb hung in the walk-in cooler. The new space required a structural retrofit with HVAC, electrical, and other upgrades. The investment also allowed him to expand his fresh produce offerings.

As the consultations progressed, the Franklin County CDC invited in a consultant to ensure that cultural differences did not impede communications. Because of this investment, Abdullah has been able to add two full-time and five part-time positions.

The Al-Nassir International Market recirculates local dollars and provides a space for human interaction and community building.


Top photo: Abdalaziz Nassir in front of the store; bottom photo: deli items are made fresh each day