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Area's first Asian mega-market opening Thursday in Amherst

A sprawling Asian supermarket stretching across half of a former Walmart opens Thursday, offering everything from 50 kinds of rice and live fish to a $12,000 tea desk.

Rockey Ren says the covers come off the stone lions out front of Asia Food Market at noon Thursday, opening the store under their mystical protection, as per the Chinese custom.

While Asian ingredients, produce and packaged goods are available at smaller stores, the supermarket at 2055 Niagara Falls Blvd. gathers a vast array under one roof, next to a massive parking lot, and adds items unavailable elsewhere.

Ren, a native of China's Fujian province, has similar stores in Rochester and Syracuse.

The stone lions will be uncovered at noon Sept. 21. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Vegetables, dairy products, meat and more will make Asia Food Market much like a regular supermarket, except one where the Asian aisle never ends.

The market's produce and dairy section was yet to be filled on Sept. 19. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Shoppers will be able to pick out a black bass and have the fishmonger clean it for them on the spot, at about $8 a pound before cleaning. Dungeness crabs (about $12 a pound) and other live seafood bob in long rows of plastic tanks.

Black bass, cleaned to order, are part of the live seafood offerings. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Scores of teas, 52 kinds of rice and 10 kinds of coconut milk are just the beginning.

Ren plans to add a bakery and Chinese barbecue counter to the store, but probably not until next year. There are more projects coming to the dark side of the former Walmart, including a food court.

Owner Rockey Ren has plans for the rest of the former Walmart, including a food court. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Furniture and home goods, beauty products and cosmetics, each have their own sections. The furniture includes a tea desk set, which runs about $12,000, including chairs. A digital voice announces when the water is boiling, a discreet drain whisks away overpours, and there's a built-in sanitizer.

Plans for the store have been under way for about five years, Ren said. A deal for a previous property fell through, but the former Walmart was right for the project.

When Asian people come to his store, "they can feel like they are in their own country," he said.

Asia Food Market opens Sept. 21 in Amherst. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

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