‘Afro-Asda’: The UK’s first Afro-Caribbean supermarket, unpacked

“If you go into Tesco or Asda, you’re able to shop freely, and conveniently. We started thinking to ourselves, why can’t we as Africans have that?”

Finding the newest Afro-Caribbean superstore in Manchester isn’t hard, all you have to do is listen out for the Afro-beats blaring from one of the stores at the Lime Street Retail Park in Openshaw. The music is coming from DOA, the supermarket that is hoping to be a one-stop shop for Manchester residents of the diaspora.

The shop is the idea of in-laws turned business partners Bukola Ariyo and Oladayo Olanrewaju and they have aspirations of playing in the big leagues. “Our dream is to be the Afro-Asda. Why not?” Said Bukola.

DOA officially opened on February 17, but they have steadily grown in popularity thanks to word of mouth and the help of prominent social media accounts promoting local black owned businesses in Manchester.

DOA stands for ‘many different things’ according to the owners, but they have settled on Direct out of Africa or Delivered out of Africa. Clips of the store have gone viral, with the MEN’s own video about the spot racking over 500k views.

From Stockport, Bukayo and Oladayo decided to create DOA to offer a more modern experience than older corner shops and warehouses that specialise in African and Caribbean foods.

Bukola Ariyo and Oladayo Olanrewaju, the team behind the new Afro-Caribbean superstore which has opened in Openshaw (Image: MEN)

“You just want to dash in and dash out. I didn’t like that experience, it’s crammed up, the ambience and feel isn’t really what you want,” Bukola says of the traditional retailers.

“If you go into Tesco or Asda, you’re able to shop freely, and conveniently. We started thinking to ourselves, why can’t we as Africans have that?”

Before DOA, Oladayo worked in the commodity and export trade for eight years while also dabbling in the hospitality industry in Nigeria. Bukola studied veterinary medicine but found herself in the financial sector for almost 15 years.

Nigerian natives, the store stocks popular Nigerian foods like moin moin and palm oil However, they do have universal African favourites like maize meal, cassava, fresh plantain, sugarcane, a range of herbs and spices commonly used in Caribbean food as well as a halal butchers, imported shea butter, black soap and more.

With strong links to the continent and a growing list of customers, Bukola and Oladayo say they are actively working with contacts from the Caribbean and parts of east, west and southern Africa to fill their shelves with what people need.

“One of the big goals is, instead of a ‘world food’ aisle’ we would have a huge shop and each aisle would be separated by countries, so ‘Zimbabweans go here, Congolese go there and Jamaicans here,” Bukola jokes.

However, they aren’t proclaiming to be doing something new, market traders, ‘world food’ stores and independent shops across the city have served communities for years with fruit and veg, meat and hair products way beyond the narrow – or non-existent – African, Caribbean, and South Asian ranges of the big supermarkets.

Which is why it ruffles some feathers when DOA refer to themselves as the first Afro-Caribbean superstore in the UK.

”We’ve done our research, I think we’re the first African store in a retail park,” Oladayo said.

“There are big African stores but there are none with this layout and the setting that we have,” Bukola added. “I give them kudos, it’s not easy managing any business and everyone does things within their capacity.

Inside DOA, Manchester’s new Afro-Caribbean superstore

“For us we’re just starting, we don’t know what the future holds but we’re sure that with the support we will succeed. Everyone in the space already should keep trying. Everything in life is in phases and different growth levels, you just don’t stay stagnant.”

DOA can be found at Lime Square, Ashton Old Rd, Openshaw, Manchester M11 1DA.