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'Filipino Store' attracting customers from hours away

The Filipino Store on the southside of Des Moines has been open since the early 2000s. The owner said she and her husband opened it to fill a need in the community.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The 'Filipino Store' is a grocery store on Des Moines' southside. 

It was started in 2004 by Benilda Roberts, an immigrant from the Philippines, and her husband, Dwight Roberts. 

"I start this business because my husband is [on] disability… I'm not working either because of my bad hip, I am limping and he's thinking like do a little business and I'm thinking we do like a Filipino store," Benilda said. 

Benilda said the majority of the products in the store are ones that can be found in her native country. 

When customers come into the store, she wants them to feel welcomed. 

She also noted stores like hers are important because they not only bring diversity to the area, they provide the types of food Filipino's are used to. 

"Even though we eat like American foods we still find our real foods, our Filipino food," Belinda said.

Some foods she called 'real foods' are ketchup made from banana products and multiple brands of noodles. 

It's products like those that keep customers like Jenelyn Schwager, who lives over three hours away in Spirit Lake, Iowa, coming back.

"Seeing the store and you have all this food that you used to grow up with you know, like all the snacks and stuff like that which actually my kids love…so coming over here pretty much feels like home," Schwager said.

Also, helping around the shop are Benilda's children. 

Her daughter Kimberly Roberts recently helped set up the store's online shop which helped the business expand. 

 "Once we went modern we had a bigger range of customers especially those from out of state so we can get our market out there more," Kimberly said. 

And Belinda said she's glad to have a place like her store because it gives people from a community not only a place to shop, but gather and feel at home.

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