Madison’s European Market Supports Customers
MADISON, Wis. – The owners of an Eastern European grocery store in Madison said they support their Ukrainian and Russian customers.
Russian Intermarket is on the west side of Madison, on the ground floor of an apartment building. Ekaterina and Alexey Pronina opened the shop 12 years ago.
“We have food from all over Eastern Europe,” said Ekaterina Pronina. “Georgian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Lithuanian.”
They opened the store after having to travel to Milwaukee or Chicago to find the products they loved in their native Russia. Over a decade later, they have cultivated a clientele seeking that comfort of their home country.
“We have a large immigrant community here from all over,” Ekaterina Pronina said.
Many of these customers come from Russia; some are from Ukraine.
“They have relatives there. They have families there on both sides,” said Ekaterina Pronina. “Their day starts with calling relatives, like searching the phone, [asking,] ‘What’s going on?”‘
With the war in Ukraine, as well as sanctions against Russia and Russian products, some of these products may be harder to find in the future. For now though, the Proninas said they would be fine. Many importers and distributors are now prepared for shortages.
“Especially after these tough times for the past two years, they’re pretty ready not to be out of stock for anything,” Ekaterina Pronina said. “They are kind of stocking up in advance. I guess they have a big stock right now, for a while, but it won’t be enough, that’s for sure. So I don’t know what to expect. »
They may start to feel the impact at some point, but not yet.
This means that for now their main focus is to support their customers. Throughout the pandemic, they delivered for free to elderly customers who wanted these tastes from home. Now the Proninas ask about their family members whenever they see them.
“My heart stays with them all the time, with the Russians, with the Ukrainians. I am against any war, no matter where it is,” said Ekaterina Pronina. “We all live here…they have become part of our family.”