Source, The Philadelphia Tribune, Afea Tucker
Just in time for Ramadan, Sharrima Sulaiman officially opened “The Ummah Shop” at the King Of Prussia Mall on Saturday April 10.
The Ummah Shop, which offers products unique to the Muslim faith, is a first-of-its-kind specialty store designed to appeal to the estimated 270,000 Muslims in the Delaware Valley area. For now, the store will only operate during the month of Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims in which they fast from dawn to dust amongst fulfilling other religious acts.
“As a Muslim mom and wife, I spent many Ramadan days driving from one end of the city to the next to purchase Ramadan staples and Eid gifts,” Sulaiman said.
After hearing other stories like hers, and wanting to alleviate some of the hardships like paying astronomical shipping fees for items specific to Ramadan and the Muslim faith, Sulaiman decided to curate an “ummah shop”, which was a one-day pop-up shop experience. The pop-up shop debuted last July to celebrate the Eid-Al-Adha, a celebration of the completion of Hajj for Muslims.
“Last year’s inaugural “Ummah Shop” took place at a local event space in the Spring Garden area of the city,” Sulaiman said. “The Ummah Shop” has now become the only retail space dedicated to Muslim consumers and their needs on the malls 2.9 million square feet of shopping space.”
Sulaiman’s “ummah shop” experience marked the first time that local Muslims could go to one place to purchase items from local, national, and global Muslim shops, notably the popular boutiques sought on Instagram.
“Decorations for Ramadan come from faraway places. Most of them come from Canada and in the UK,” said Aliya Khabir, president at AZK Communications. “So, for her being able to have those items in the store and to have halal nail polish for sisters, which usually comes from Canada and other places where you’re paying more for the shipping than you do for the item. I think she’s alleviated a lot of headaches for Muslims who are trying to gather all these things. It was such a great event to go to.”
Within less than a year’s span and a bit of negotiating, Sulaiman turned her pop-up vision into a seasonal flagship store in the third largest mall in the United States. Nestled among various retailers and high-end boutiques, “The Ummah Shop” drew so many customers that the line wrapped around the door.
Out of all of the specialty shops in the mall from past to present there has never been any store or experience curated specifically for Muslims.
“This is the experience that we always wanted. I’ve been Muslim all of my life, so that’s 41 years, and never had I had the opportunity to walk into a major mall and find everything curated for me. So it is wonderful that she [Sulaiman] can provide a service where Muslims can find everything that they need to make their Ramadan and their Eid memorable,” Khabir said.
Ramadan begins on April 12 or 13 depending on the sighting of the moon.