“It’s becoming the best place in Edmonton,” said Mustaf Nuur, owner of Jovani Variety Store on 118 Avenue and 93 Street. Sitting on chairs placed outside his shop, he visits with friends and customers while watching life unfold on the Avenue. Nuur has owned Jovani Variety Store for three years. “The neighbourhood is good,” he said.

Originally from Somalia, Nuur lived in South Africa for 13 years and operated a grocery store.

“This is what I know,” Nuur said. “This is my job.”  

Nuur explained running a variety store is not always easy. Occasionally he takes driving jobs up north to make sure the bills are paid. Nuur compares owning the store to raising a child from a baby to a teenager. “We’re trying to grow it up.”  

The store is welcoming and clean, well stocked with drinks for a hot day and chocolate bars for a treat. Shelves contain nuts, honey, spices, and dates and a few staples like grains and beans. Cigarettes are discreetly located behind the counter and hookah pipes are on display. Cell phone paraphernalia such as cases, chargers, Bluetooth, and headphones are easy to see on the walls and under glass counters. Nuur also unlocks new cell phones and sells HudHud calling cards.  

Hanging on the walls are hockey jerseys alongside khamis—the Somalian name for the long shirt worn by men. He laughed and explained he doesn’t normally stock clothing, but is selling them for a friend.  

Mustaf Nuur operated a grocery store in South Africa for 13 years. | Rebecca Lippiatt

Jovani Variety Store is open 11 am-9 pm Monday through Saturday and noon-7 pm on Sundays, with slightly shorter hours in the winter. 

Featured Image: Business owner Mustaf Nuur visits with customers on 118 Avenue outside Jovani Variety Store. | Rebecca Lippiatt