Finding Minnesota: Hmongtown Marketplace


MINNESOTA IS TO ONE OF THE LARGEST AMONG POPULATIONS IN THE COUNTRY. IN ST. PAUL, YOU’LL FIND A HUB OF THEIR COMMUNITY. THE MONK TOWN MARKET PLACE OPENED IN 2004 TO CREATE A CONNECTION TO THEIR HOMELAND. VENDORS SELL SPICES AND CLOTHING FROM CAMBODIA, THAILAND, AND LIGHTHOUSE. THE MAN BEHIND THE MARKETPLACE IN THIS WEEK’S FINDING MINNESOTA. Reporter: THE DAY BEGINS AT MONTEL MARKETPLACE WITH PREPARATION FOR THE RUSSIAN BUSINESS. AS EVERY CLOTHING AND PRODUCE DISPLAY TAKES PLACE, SO DOES A DREAM OF A BETTER LIFE. TO UNDERSTAND HIS SUCCESS, YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER HIS BEGINNINGS. WHEN I FIRST CAME TO AMERICA IN 1986, I MISSED MY HOMELAND SO MUCH. Reporter: LONG BEFORE HE OWNED AMONG MARKET, HE WAS A REFUGEE OVERCOMING LANGUAGE BARRIERS TO COMPLETE COLLAGEN PROVIDE FOR HIS FAMILY. I WAS IN LAOS AND DODGING BULLETS IN THE JUNGLE. IF I CAN SURVIVE IN THE JUNGLE, I CAN SURVIVE YEAR NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS. Reporter: HE FILLED A VOID IN HIS COMMUNITY. HAVING SOMETHING LIKE THIS, THEY COME HERE EVERY TIME THEY FEEL THEY NEED HOPE. Reporter: HIS MARKETPLACE HAS GROWN INTO TWO SEPARATE BUILDINGS. THERE ARE MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ASKING FOR SPACE. I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE FOR THEM. THIS IS COURAGE. Reporter: SPEND UP — SPREAD OVER 6 ACRES ARE THE GOODS OF THAILAND AND LAOS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY TICKETS TO GO TO THAILAND OR LAOS. THIS IS IT. Reporter: FOR THE MONK COMMUNITY IT OFFERS FAMILIARITY IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. WE DON’T HAVE A FREE MARKET LIKE THIS AND WE HAD TO, WE CANNOT FIND WHAT WE NEED. Reporter: WHILE PROVIDING MEANS TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES. ORR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR THEM TO BE EMPLOYED BY CORPORATE AMERICA. Reporter: IN CREATING THIS CONNECTION, HE ALSO BRIDGE OF SOCIAL GAP. EVERY DAY HIS MARKET INTRODUCES ALL RACES TO NEW TRADITIONS AND EXPERIENCES. THIS IS RAW BEEF. I LIKE PEOPLE TO COME AND EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE. Reporter: AND AMBITIOUS IDEA IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN THE FABRIC OF THE TWIN CITIES. AND FOR THIS MAN, SUCCESS IS NECESSARY TO KEEP GROWING. I HAVE NOT YET REACHED THE PINNACLE. Reporter: DURING THE LAST WEEKEND, URINE INVITED TO THE FIRST ANNUAL MONK TOWN FESTIVAL. THE EVENT WILL FEATURE FOOD, PERFORMANCES, AND THE CELEBRATION OF THE CULTURE. IT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. IT IS OPEN EVERY DAY FROM 8 AM -8 PM AND IS LOCATED ON COMO AVENUE AT MARION STREET IN DOWNTOWN ST. PAUL.

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