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Fresh produce, imported delicacies draw customers

Since 2002, Khalil Saad and his uncle, Faried Saad, have owned Papaya Fruit Market in Detroit, a place so popular that the partners once purchased an adjacent housing lot just so they could add more parking space.

Known especially for its fresh produce, Papaya became one of the most popular markets in the area despite fierce competition.

The Saads were happy with their business venture and didn’t plan to move, until a prime spot opened up in Dearborn on the corner of Chase and Warren a few miles away from Detroit.

The duo negotiated a deal for the spot where Arabian Town Center used to reside, and the new Papaya Fruit & Grocery Market of Dearborn was born. The store opened in February and has quickly become a new hub for locals seeking fresh produce and other items.

Papaya has managed to emerge as one of the biggest and most popular Arab American-owned grocery stores in an area that has plenty of them, and it happened faster than Saad anticipated.

Customers appreciate the wide selection of items both domestic and imported, adding a unique twist to the traditional grocery store model.

“When we started Papaya here in Detroit we never thought it would grow as big as it is today,” he said.

“But what God can give you, you know, you’re not going to stop it.”

Saad said that the opportunity to add another location in Dearborn wasn’t originally in the plans, but customer demand and the attractiveness of the location made it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Papaya to grow its brand and to continue to serve the community despite difficult economic times.

“The opportunity to open up a new store on that corner was just too good to pass up because of its great location,” Khalil Saad said.

Saad added that the main goal of Papaya is not necessarily to make a huge profit but also to provide quality produce and other foods such as halal meats, nuts, and other goods at reasonable prices in light of the tough economic situation for many families in the area.

“We provide quality products at low prices and we provide it to the customers with good, honest service,” he said.

With so many unique, wholesome items, customers come from all over southeast Michigan to visit the store and stock up.

The interior of the newer Papaya’s location is bright, sharp looking, and clutter-free so customers can browse the store’s vast selection of items while feeling comfortable and relaxed.

Khalil Saad said that adding a new location has been tough on him and his partner but he is proud of the new location and looks forward to seeing the community’s response.

“We’ve had a good start over there at the new location without a lot of advertising yet; we’ve had a good amount of people walking in,” he said the week of the store's grand opening. “We do this from our hearts and we look forward to serving people in Dearborn,” he added.

The new Papaya Fruit & Grocery location is at the corner of Warren Avenue and Chase Road in Dearborn and the Detroit location is at 48228 Warren Avenue between Southfield Road and Greenfield Road. For more information, e-mail papayafm@hotmail.com or call 313.584.8755.

The Arab American News

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