SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

October 3, 2012

Bargains out of Africa, right in downtown Peabody

PEABODY — Almost from the beginning, American music has had an African influence, coming out of the passionate voices brought to this continent 350 years ago in slave ships.

These days, says Patrick Ezeadichie, that influence often runs in the opposite direction. “The hip hop,” he says, gesturing to a wall full of compact discs, many featuring African artists offering their own interpretation of that American musical genre.

Such music is a key element in Ezeadichie’s unique, new shop, African Bargains, on Main Street in Peabody. The store also features traditional African music. And there’s more here than music, including wonderfully worked African carvings made from rare woods, African art and clothing as well as beauty products.

A native of Nigeria, now an American citizen, Ezeadichie, 43, was born into a middle-class family — of 10 children. He moved to the United States 12 years ago and has lived in Peabody for the past decade. Seven years ago he saw a market for African music and began selling it online.

“I built the business from scratch,” he says. “I want to better my life and take care of my family.”

In March he took the financial gamble, along with wife Caroline, 35 and also from Nigeria, by opening his own store. “It’s a family business,” he says, nodding to two sleeping babies on the floor behind the counter. The couple have three children: Clem, who attends the Welch School; Chris and Beatrice.

The online sales continue. Ezeadichie waves a package addressed to someone across the country. Making the store work represents a challenge. “It is tough, but we are managing. ... We always knew it would be tough to start.”

He hopes to attract African immigrants to his wares, adding that it would surprise people how many Africans live in the area. Some can be found in Lynn, and he hopes to draw them in as they head through Peabody on the way to the Northshore Mall.

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