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Molly African Mart offers African food staples in former Fashionette building

LANSING, Ill. (December 9, 2023) – A native of Nigeria is doing her part to bring a taste of Africa to the south suburbs.

Clara Adeleke opened Molly African Mart at 3334 Ridge Road in late October in the space that had housed the Fashionette woman’s apparel store for many years.

The store now holds shelves of African food staples such as African palm oil, brown beans and spices, Peak milk, dried crayfish, cassava flour, plantain chips, and pounded yam.

“And we have different seeds for making African soup,” Adeleke said.

The store also sells Caribbean foods, Nigerian malt drinks, and frozen foods such as farm raised catfish, mackerel, vegetables, and Australian goat meat.

Molly African Mart
Well-wishers including Lansing Village President Patty Eidam (far right) attended a ribbon cutting on December 6 to welcome Molly African Mart to Lansing. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

Beauty, food, business

“It’s a family business,” Adeleke said. “I own it with my husband (Isaiah).”

The name “Molly” is a shortened form of Adeleke’s middle name, Molara.

Adeleke had experience running a business after she moved from Nigeria to Namibia in southern Africa.

“I opened a store for beauty supply products, serving the entire nation,” she said.

She came to the United States in 2014 and owned a beauty supply store in Glenwood.

“Buying one opened my eyes to the challenges that black-owned beauty supply stores have,” Adeleke said. “We have challenges of getting the stock from the suppliers. There’s so much monopoly in that area.”

Now Adeleke has decided to focus on African food, which she believes there is a market for in the Lansing area.

Items including African brown beans can be found at Molly African Mart. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

“It affords me the opportunity to serve my community, too,” said Adeleke. “To serve people of my descent who live in this area, this village and the neighboring villages. To serve them to make their food accessible. They don’t have to go far to Chicago.”

But that doesn’t mean Adeleke has completely given up on the beauty field, as she plans to also sell beauty products from Africa, and even more.

“I’m going to add African dresses,” Adeleke said.

Molly African Mart
The leafy Jamaican vegetable callaloo can be found on the shelves at Molly African Mart. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)
Plantain chips are among the food items available for purchase at Molly African Mart. (Photo: Paul Czapkowicz)

“Executive treatment” for customers

She said business has been slow to start but is hopeful because of the location’s proximity to Ridge Road.

“We are here to serve and to satisfy our clients, our customers,” Adeleke said. “We are just waiting for them to come in so we can give them the executive treatment.”

Adeleke’s son, Emmanuel, helps out at the store when he is not taking classes at the University of Illinois Chicago.

He said the store’s opening has “kind of been a long time coming” and that his mother has been wanting to do something like this for a while.

“It’s nice to see that it’s finally open,” Emmanuel said.

Molly African Mart is located at 3334 Ridge Road in Lansing. It can be reached at 708-251-8128 and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz has served as a correspondent for the Northwest Indiana Times, so he is familiar with local politics, local business, and local goings-on in general. His training as a teacher gives him an innate sense of how to present facts in an organized and meaningful way, so readers gain understanding of complex subjects.