Photos courtesy of Mia Sakai and Tim Hannifan
Some hit their local convenience store for a Diet Coke and Doritos.
Others make a late-night pit stop for a six-pack and scratchers or an emergency trip for toilet paper.
The Pandemic Pivot
Owner Mia Sakai has a background in branding, graphic design, and marketing. She has also been involved in pop-up home and lifestyle retail stores before. Inspired by Puerto Rican bodegas, she and her husband, Tim Hannifan, renovated the 400 square foot space that used to be an old vintage clothing store called Tilly.
After gutting the entire store, the couple gathered building materials from around Andersonville and strapped them to the top of their car. With the help of The Chicago Tool Library — which has 2,500 borrowable tools from sewing machines to table saws — they laid tiles, cut baseboard trim, and built shelves.
They named their grab-and-go business Ándale, which means “let’s go” in Spanish. “We're in a time where people don't really want to go into a store and linger forever,” Sakai says.
When people learn Ándale Market opened last December, they’re often surprised because it was during the uncertainty of the pandemic. "The truth is — if the pandemic has taught us anything — nothing in life is certain,” Sakai says. With an estimated 345,323 COVID-19 deaths and 114 million job losses, the world was upended, halted, and turned upside down. “We decided it was a lay your chips on the table kind of moment,” she says.
“One of the reasons we wanted to do what we call ‘a curated Bodega’ is because it could still be deemed an essential business. During the pandemic, as we were seeing non-essential businesses start to shut down, we thought it was a good way to stay operational.”
The Best Local and Imported Goods
Shortlisted for Time Out Chicago’s Love Local awards, Ándale Market stocks local and imported goods. “We take a lot of customer recommendations. If you’re looking for something specific we don't carry, we’ll look into it. Some products are recommendations from friends and family. Others are from our travels,” Sakai says.
“Before the pandemic, my husband and I spent a lot of time traveling. We were fortunate enough to go all over the world, and our main goal when we travel is to immerse ourselves in the culture. We are always looking for the next great meal and eating our way through places.”
If you can’t make it to Spain, Ándale Market has Güeyu Mar. Its chargrilled sardines, cockles, and squid will carry your tastebuds away (sans passport). The dog-friendly convenience store — which has its own in-house pup named Arlo — also carries Phoenix Bean Tofu. This non-GMO, organically-grown tofu is handcrafted daily to ensure freshness and authenticity.
Ándale Market also has Detroit Chips, which landed on Oprah’s Favorite Things list in 2016. They help create wealth and work in the underserved and underinvested African American community. They also sell Onigiri Shuttle Kororin’s handmade rice balls. Flavors include pork belly, salmon butter, crunchy garlic corn, and Negi (green onion) miso.
Ándale Market has more than 50 condiments and sauces in stock. For example, there’s Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp. Hyped as “a shortcut to deliciousness” by The New York Times, it’s packed with crispy chili bits, preserved black beans, mushroom powder, sesame oil, and garlic.
But don’t be fooled, there’s more than just foodstuffs. There are 3D-printed planters and mystery eggs by Haleyanne Freedman. There are also oversized sea bream-shaped soaps, which are considered a good omen in Japan, and unwrapped Munchiecat catnip sushi trays that enchant children and dogs that are passing by.
While listening to 90's hip hop, you can still wash your churro-flavored protein bar down with a Mountain Dew or buy three bags of legally-addictive cookies per week. Ándale Market tries to toe the line between health and fun. They also want people to be surprised and define our products as approachable and affordable.
“As far as supply chain issues, we’ve seen a substantial squeeze with turnaround times and getting products. We also heard that a lot of our local brands are having trouble getting packaging stickers, baking supplies, raw materials, and even the staff to help them with their products," Sakai says
Despite the kinks in the supply chain, Ándale Market has put together hand-picked and pre-wrapped gift boxes for the holidays and special occasions. Tapas Time, Dinner with Ándale, Pantry Droppers, Tea Time, and For the Love of Chocolate are guaranteed to win hearts and bellies.
Creating Community Roots
Ándale Market is creating community roots. The mom-and-pop shop participated in the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce’s 15th Wine Walk. Participants received a commemorative wine tasting glass and a Cork or Bottle route card highlighting each wine. Ándale Market served up spicy habanero margaritas and char-cute-erie cones.
The small business also held its 1st Cookie Champ event. Eight breakout bakers competed for the opportunity to be stocked on Ándale Market’s shelves. Over 300 residents voted for their favorite sweet treat. “Boy, was it a close race! So close that we decided to stock both Masa Madre and runner-up Carolyn’s Krisps’ vegan and gluten-free cookies so we’ll have something for everyone,” Sakai writes on Instagram.
“What a year it’s been getting to know all of you — your stories and snacking habits, your commitment to the neighborhood and shopping local. We are humbled and grateful for the love and support you’ve shown us in our first year of business.”
5232 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640
Open 7 days a week
Monday - Friday: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.