Completely in ruins

Goldenland Asian Food Market works to reopen in new location

Viewing the shell that remains of Goldenland Asian Food Market, it’s amazing that the people inside the building at the time of the tornado not only survived, but were able to exit through the front of the store.

Owner/operated Win Kyaw and his staff took shelter in the basement of the business, which is located at 31 N. Center St.

“(Debris) didn’t fall on everything — a couple of steps stayed open so we could get out through the front,” employee John Saw said.

Their next step was removing any savable goods out the back entrance. In the days following the storm, Kyaw gave away much of the remaining fish, meat and produce so it wouldn’t go to waste. Now, he watches the progress of the cleaning crew, who will soon demolish the building. The structure itself, is a total loss.

“We’ve had tornado alarms before, but you don’t think that it will happen here,” Kyaw said.

Fortunately, the market was insured, and Kyaw and his wife own the building. However, they are still waiting to hear back from their insurance provider to learn how much money they will get to open the store in a new location.

Currently, Kyaw is selling the remainder of his non-perishable goods out of his home, at 206 Thomas Drive.

“It’s just temporary storage, and some people walk in (to the house) because they can’t get the Asian food in town,” he said.

Kyaw, a refugee from Burma, has prior experience running a grocery store in Malaysia, before moving to Des Moines in 2006. He opened up a store in Marshalltown in 2011, located at 27 N. Center St., directly next door to the current store, before it relocated again two years later, for the sake of gaining more floorspace.

The store’s inventory has food and other goods from Asia and Africa, including rice, noodles, spices, produce, meats, fish and snacks. He said his clientele is varied, and included non-Asian customers.

“I’m a guy who likes to try anything. Their produce is good, and they carried a lot of fish and fruit — things we don’t have in this part of the world,” customer Abel Ramirez said.

John Whitehead, a frequent customer, said he enjoyed purchasing exotic Asian snacks and fresh, affordable produce from the market.

“I think the impact on them closing on our community would be the loss of a valuable and unique business,” Whitehead said. “Their business catered to the community by selling items not available at other locations locally. Also, the attitude and friendliness of their employees is priceless.”

Kyaw said he plans to reopen the store in the same part of town, and is in the process of scoping out another property.

“The store is good for Asian people and good for Marshalltown too,” he said.

More more information, Kyaw may be reached at: 515-339-8771

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com