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Renton's DK Market becomes hotspot for international shopping
A popular Renton produce stand is quickly becoming Renton's new international district.
Inside DK Market's warehouse, a Mexican grocery is setting up shop alongside a Russian deli and Chinese herb store.
"They have something for every culture," said customer Brenda Renrick. "It's a heck of a place."
Pallets of food replace shelves inside the market's warehouse. Colorful produce lines plywood tables. It's one of the few places in town people can find Indian bitter melon and taro root.
It's also a hot spot for bargain hunters seeking to fill their cupboards with fresh vegetables.
Once called Lenny's, the market moved two years ago to its current location behind Walmart. The owner renamed it DK for his late brother's initials, said manager Danny Kwan.
Its loyal customers followed.
"I like it here because it's fresh and cheaper," said mother Bertha Ramirez, as she filled a bag with Roma tomatoes. "The price is less than other markets."
The market keeps its costs low. There aren't displays or promotions. The floors are unfinished and the owner doesn't even turn on the heat.
"It's cold in here, but you learn to wear your coat," Renrick said.
Like popular chain stores, most of DK's produce comes from California, but the market sells it for a much lower price.
They make up for their low prices by selling more quantity. Expect to buy most produce by the pound, even basil.
The model is working well in this economy. The market's sales have grown the past two year.
"I think it's because we have a bigger space," Kwan said.
Non-perishable items from around the world fill about half the store. Several immigrant families were attracted to the market's low prices and began making requests for boxed and canned goods.
"We didn't pick them," Kwan said of his customers. "They came to us."
The market gradually began to fill with imported goods, making it popular among locals who want to experiment and immigrants who long for a bit of home.
Most of the imports come from South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Kwan said.
"My husband and I have tried so many different things here," Renrick said while holding a jar of coconut oil. "We just kind of make it an outing."