Categories: Specialty Food Stores

Shopping at Nouri’s

In the late 1920’s, when my mother (I’ll call her Little Mary) was about 7 years old, she and my grandparents lived in Paterson, NJ.
Paterson’s famous silk mills were a natural lure for my grandfather and other Armenian immigrants who had practiced weaving in the Old Country.

On rare occasions, Little Mary was given ten cents to go to the Rialto Theater on Main St. to see a double feature, cartoons, a newsreel, and a serial. She and her friends spent the entire Saturday at the theater.

Once, when Little Mary was taking care of her younger brother, Walter (Vartan), she wanted to go to the movies but only had one dime – not enough for the two of them. She wasn’t deterred; instead, she simply explained to the manager sweetly that her parents weren’t home so she couldn’t possibly get another dime.

Would her brother be allowed to enter, too? “Of course,” said the manager. That was in 1928. Try doing that today!

What does this have to do with Nouri’s? Years later. the Rialto Theater became Nouri’s Middle Eastern market.

My family have been regular shoppers at Nouri’s for decades. Moving away from Paterson hasn’t stopped them from going there either. They make a special trip out of it. Their routine is to have lunch nearby at Toros’ (a really good Mediterranean style restaurant), then shop at Nouri’s to stock-up on all of their specialty items.

For me, a visit to Nouri’s is extra special because I live more than 1,000 miles away – in Florida. When Mom arrives for her annual visit with us, her trunk is always packed with bulgur, spices and other treats from Nouri’s.

On a recent visit to see Mom in New Jersey, she and I made the trip to Nouri’s together — and I got a reminder of how much fun shopping there has always been.

Middle Eastern stores are plentiful in Paterson, which has a large Arab-American population. In fact, from the music, the chatter and the wafting smell of whatever’s cooking, a visitor might well mistake his surroundings for Beirut or Allepo.

What makes Nouri’s special is Mr. Nouri himself, a businessman who cares for his customers. Nouri’s sells food items – homemade and commercial — as well as electronics, musical instruments, CD’s, DVD’s, books, jewelry, and clothing. As I said, one-stop shopping!

The store is open 7 days a week. Mon. to Sat. from 8 am to 8 pm; Sun. from 9 am to 6 pm. Customers can order whatever they need from the store’s vast collection by phone, but just know that they only ship on Mondays.

Nouri’s address is:
997- 1001 Main Street
Paterson, NJ 07503
Phone: 973-279-2388
Toll Free #: 1-800-356-6874

View Comments

  • Nice that the market is thriving in this former movie house but the story reminds us of what we've lost, too. Almost no element of that story (starting with a 7-year-old left in charge of a younger sibling) would likely be repeated today. And the theater today would rather show the film to empty seats than let someone in free!

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