Over a year old, it still had that “new store” smell to it. The meat section stocked frozen goat, cow skin, and feet but butcher’s section was sparse but clean as a whistle. A wide variety of flours with most ranging from .99 to 5.99 for a 3 or 5 pound bag, respectively. Not bad if you compare to Whole Food’s bulk bins prices, but there’s no guarantee that it’s organic if that’s important. Palm oil, natural ginger & strawberry juices and whiting fish are stocked along with a few locally made brands of shito and kenkey. The best find was the spice aisle. I’ve been looking for Grains of Paradise, a great black pepper substitute,which I’ve only found stocked at the Spice House. A West African spice, more common to the ginger family, according to Wikipedia. Known as Wisa Efom or Efom Wisa, it sells for $4.18 for more than couple of ounces ($8.74 for a 1/2 cup refill, net wt. 3 oz at the Spice House).
Makola’s owner Nana Yaw has been in the Chicago area for 23 years. As I tried my best not to be noticed by anyone while review the store, but he kindly approached me as I was scribbling down all the interesting and fun finds I came across. He said encouraged by a friend to get into the business and things have been good for him since. They also sell their own brand of unrefined shea butter for $4.99 (I’m guessing here – they’re sold in 16 to 24 oz jars), African cloths and films($5 a pop) from Ghana and Nigeria, with titles like Thug Love, and DVD covers that make you wonder if you’re getting a straight film with a porn cover, or a straight-up porn flick.
The original mini-market has been open for 10 years and is staffed by a gruff older woman, who wastes no time in getting to the point. Small and cramped, they carry everything except meat.