BazaAr Supermarkets, a small chain of international stores in and around Boston, has stopped stocking products imported from Russia in a show of support for Ukrainian people following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and attacks on civilian areas.
This Sunday, for the second week in a row, more than 3,000 people took to the Boston streets to rally against the war. As a business with immigrant roots, the BazaAr chain is joining in to support Ukraine.
The first BazaAr Supermarket opened in Brookline in 1991. A second market opened in Allston in 2007, followed by one in Cambridge in 2013 and, most recently, one in Newton in 2014.
Sabina Roytman, one of the current owners, joined the company in 2014. Having immigrated from Moldova in the 1990s herself, Roytman said she empathizes with the people in Ukraine.
“We've emigrated from the regime that was there back then, in order to live a better life and to have freedom that we, thank God, have here in this country,” she said.
The BazaAr markets are international stores that carry goods from all over Europe, including Russia. Roytman explained that the company purchases products from overseas indirectly through wholesalers. The stores decided to forgo purchasing Russian imports from its wholesalers.
“We do not want to support the war,” Roytman said. “Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine.”
She said it is still unclear whether the stores will resume stocking Russian goods in the future. The supermarkets’ Ukrainian products may also be unavailable for the duration of the war, she added.
“Unfortunately, we understand that we're not going to have deliveries for a certain amount of time,” Roytman said.
Roytman explained that all four stores have staff members with relatives in Ukraine. The company is working to help these family members and plans to send food to a refugee camp.
“We helped a couple of families to escape to Moldova,” she said.
She noted that the supermarket staff includes immigrants from both Ukraine and Russia.
“We are all immigrants, and we are here in this country because we wanted freedom,” she said. “We wanted better life for us and for our children. And we all pray that the people in Ukraine can have it — can have freedom, can have peace — and that it comes to them as well.”
—Staff writer Michal Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bymgoldstein.