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Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop a Thunder Bay couple from opening dream store | CBC News

Here’s a love story, with a little bit of spice.

Deepak Bonda and Heena Bhataria both came from their homes in the south and the north of India, respectively, to pursue higher education at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ont.

While completing their studies, they met and fell in love.

Most of their other friends from college returned to their homes in Canada or abroad, but the couple stayed, found jobs and got married. Then, they decided to take on a new adventure.

“It’s just the thought my wife had, like, she always pushed me. She said, we can’t just do a job for life … you know, waiting for the weekend, waiting for the vacation or something … it just seemed off. So she always wanted [us] to start some business,” said Bonda.

Seeing the need for a stand-alone store stocking Indian foods and groceries, they decided to open one up in the city.

“When we were students back in the college, we lacked quite a lot of Indian products … and we always wanted a store in the city so that everyone can buy all different items … and it’s not just Indian students [that would be interested]. There are families over here who are also living around the city and we also thought Canadians would be interested in something new,” Bonda added.

Deepak Bonda, one of the owners of the new Indian grocery store Land of Spices, says they worked hard to ensure there is a wide variety of items for people to choose from. (Logan Turner / CBC)

Their parents weren’t always the most supportive of the idea, the couple said, especially because of their relative young age. 

“They wanted us to settle down and have kids and then maybe think of the business. But the way we thought was like, we are young, so we are still active … so if we put our 100 per cent, it’ll be much more efficient than when you’re starting a business in your forties,” said Bonda.

After more than two years of hard work and preparation, the couple was finally ready to open their store.

Then a global pandemic struck.

“We had to drop the idea of opening this door multiple times,” said Bhataria.

Go on an audio tour of the newly opened store by clicking here.

Superior Morning7:21Land of Spices

Small, local businesses are among the hardest hit during this pandemic. Restrictions have caused many doors to close. But this isn’t one of those stories. In the face of the pandemic, a young couple decided to open the store of their dreams. It’s called Land of Spices … and the CBC’s Logan Turner takes us there. 7:21

The pandemic caused shipments to be delayed or cancelled and the shop owners had to search for multiple vendors who were still in operation.

“We were afraid at first how things will work out [but] things kept on rolling and today we are here! It’s just unexplainable right now,” Bhataria said.

The grocery store is full of spices, dried goods, frozen vegetables, pre-made meals and desserts directly from India; and the response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.

Bhataria added, “one of the comments I heard was one of the guys who was talking to his friend [who said], ‘I really don’t want to come to this place because I come here to buy one thing and then I pick up five more things.’ So that is good to hear that what people want, we have. So that makes us happy and satisfied!”

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