New Somali shopping center opens in East Phillips

The Global Business Center, a Somali shopping center on Lake Street, celebrates its grand opening today.

The bazaar-like center has 42 retailers, and is business "by Somalis for Somalis," according to a story in Finance and Commerce. This makes the third major Somali shopping center in Minneapolis -- Karmel in the 2900 block of Pillsbury Avenue and Village Market (or 24 Mall, as it is known among Somalis)l, on 912 E 24th St. in Minneapolis.

The Twin Cities has the largest Somali population in North America -- estimated to be at least 60,000 strong. The malls offer reminders of home, and the new mall will be no exception, according to the story:

The 20,000-square-foot center offers jewelry, clothing, furniture, baked goods, home furnishings, music, videos, a barber shop -- and even a small prayer room for Muslim proprietors and customers.

Local business analysts expect that the mall will have a built-in customer base:

Dave Brennan, co-director of the Twin Cities-based Institute For Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas, predicted that the Global Business Center should prove attractive to its target audience, and he cited the same factors that made certain neighborhoods in New York City retail centers for that community's Italian and Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century.

"Somalis ... probably will be willing to go a greater distance because of the clear identity as a Somali center," Brennan said. Like other immigrants, Somali shoppers naturally "want to support their community."

But we think everyone -- not just Somalis -- should make a trip. At least try the cardamom tea -- it will be delicious.