Hometown Heroes: Karma Gonpo’s store connects cultures

  • In this photo taken before the pandemic, Karma Gonpo, owner of Katmandu Bazaar on Concord Heights, restocks the produce section of his market. Each Thursday, Gonpo travels to Boston to pick up imported fruits and vegetables. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 12/17/2020 8:55:17 AM
Modified: 12/17/2020 8:55:07 AM

Karma Gonpo moved to New Hampshire for the promise of opportunity.

As a recent immigrant to the United States from Nepal, he had been working at gas stations and restaurants to make ends meet. Some of his friends who already lived in New Hampshire told him he could start a business in the state where he was the boss, not the employee.

Gonpo launched his business as a small gas station snack shop in 2010. Just four years later, the demand for his products outgrew the small building and he opened a full-fledged market called the Katmandu Baazar, in the heart of Concord Heights.

The isles are filled with colorful tins and boxes from across the globe. He buys imported products from New York City, and every Thursday, he wakes up in the middle of the night to go to Boston, where he chooses fresh fruit and vegetables – sourced from Asia and Africa – to bring back to his store.

He said before his store opened, you used to have to drive to Boston to get Nepalese food. Now, the small but growing Asian and African population in New Hampshire is centered at Gonpo’s store. The food brings them together, he said.

After seeing Gonpo’s success in Concord, two other Nepalese markets have opened in the state.

Like most local businesses, the pandemic has been hard on Gonpo’s business – he recently had to lay off two employees. He and his other employees have worked extra hours to compensate.

It is especially difficult to keep his restaurant, which is situated in the market, running while COVID restrictions are in place. Gonpo said he is just grateful his customers are loyal to the store.

In return, Gonpo does his best to provide any food they request of him.

“They bring the name and label and I’ll go and find it for them,” he said.

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