WATERLOO — Hornbill Asian Market is going down for double — double the floor space, and hopefully, business as great as its great hornbill namesake.
The store, in business for about three years in Eveland Plaza in the 900 block of West Fifth Street, has moved next door — from the 4,500-square-foot space at 920 W. Fifth St. which formerly housed Q&T Pharmacy to the 9,000-square-foot retail space at 930 W. Fifth St. most recently occupied by Dollar General, the longtime former location of S & S Foods grocery store.
Plaza owner John Eveland said he’s installed almost $20,000 worth of mechanical system improvements for the move, and store owner Mang Pau, made an additional investment in added freezer space.
The store completed the move about two weeks ago, after the Dollar General relocated from the space in February 2015.
Mang Pau, born and raised in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, came to the U.S. in 2010 with his older brother, Suan Tung, and younger brother, Zam Lai. He and his older brother initially worked at the JBS Swift pork plant in Marshalltown.
“We came up with the idea to start our own business, to open an Asian grocery store,” Mang Pau wrote. “Even though we were interested in business, we didn’t have any background of being a business owner. We didn’t have the education, we spoke too little English and that made us worried. Not only that we also had no money to start the business with as well, but we didn’t give up on our dreams and goals.”
They borrowed what they could and used what they had in savings. “In April 2014 we were able to open the store. Now our business has grown significantly and we even have to expand the business by moving to a bigger store. And we know that it’s just because God has answered our prayer.”
“When they were in that store, there wasn’t hardly any inventory. It was probably 40 percent empty,” said Eveland. “They just outgrew it. And now they’ve filled this much larger store. You can see there’s a lot of inventory.”
The name Hornbill comes from the great hornbill bird, a national emblem and noble image of the Zomi ethnic group of Myanmar, or “Zo people.”
The store carries food from around the world — mainly Asian food but also African, Marshallese and Haitian foods.
Store manager Mang Nang, Mang Tau’s cousin, said they hope to expand the store offerings to include additional ethnic foods. The inventory includes 50-pound bags of many varieties of rice, a large selection of seafood, including octopus, squid and mackerel; a large selection of fresh fruit and vegetables; eggs, including quail eggs; and many different types of spices and sauces.
“It’s amazing,” Eveland said, noting they have foods he’s never heard of before.