Damjan Tevdovski knows that close residential neighbors to his family’s new global market are eagerly awaiting its opening.
“They were waiting for us to open. They are curious,” he said. “This generation is very curious to try different foods. Instead of going to your local department stores, a lot of people go to a local market which is a little different.”
The wait is over: Tevdovski runs one of Livonia’s newest businesses, Atko Market and Bakery, located at 31245 Eight Mile. The market occupies the old Rite Aid pharmacy building on the corner of Merriman, which has been vacant for several years.
The Atko Market was launched in 2004 in Shelby Township, shortly after the Tevdovskis moved to Michigan from Macedonia. The family started out in a small shop in Macomb County selling items mostly from Eastern Europe before growing up and expanding into a larger space on this side of town.
“The community was very tight. They wanted something from home, ”he said. “We gave them fresh desserts, as they would have done in their country.”
Then, after seeing the potential for growth, they decided to expand. They started looking for a place to open the past year and a half and discovered the building on the Livonia / Farmington Hills border. They started construction last October and opened in April.
Looking at a place like Livonia, he said, was an ideal option for expansion, especially given the diversity of the surrounding region. This diversity in the region has led them to change the direction of the Livonian market to cater for many other cultural products from around the world.
“This one is wide because there are different ethnicities here,” Tevdovski said. “We have Poles, Russians, Germans, from the Middle East, all kinds of people here.
“It’s 15 minutes from Novi, 15 minutes from Dearborn Heights, 15 minutes from West Bloomfield or more.”
Elizabeta Tevdovski, his mother, echoed this sentiment. After considering the makeup of the region, the family decided to open a new boutique in a city like Livonia.
“When they researched the market, they saw that the western part had a large group from the Balkan region,” she said. “So we decided to open one more.”
Large range of products
The market prides itself on offering products that are not typically found in the United States. The shelves are stocked with items such as olives from Greece, farmhouse cheese from Poland and Fanta from North Macedonia. They even sell a handful of imported products specifically for the Atko market and bakery: the Prima line includes items such as banana peppers, cabbage and more. Several coolers also supply meats and cheeses from places like Albania and Serbia.
The store also has a full bakery with products baked on site including cannoli, cakes and baklava. Savory dishes include French bread, cornbread, and burek, a Balkan puff pastry filled with items such as meat, spinach, and cheese.
“It’s the # 1 most popular product we have,” said Damjan Tevdovski. “We’re making the best. We’re running out.”
Elizabeta Tevdovski said they noticed more US-born customers coming to the store, so they tried to adapt some of the recipes to cater to those customers as well.
More information, including a list of some of the products, can be found online at atkomarkets.com.
Damjan Tevdovski said he hopes to continue to expand the variety of products in the store, and that he will continue to have more in the weeks and months to come. He hopes to have more refrigerated items in the coolers, as well as to add alcohol imported from other countries.
The goal, he said, is to become a beacon of world cuisine in Eight Mile and Merriman.
“What I want is to catch all the ethnicities that we can,” he said. “I go for a lot of multi-ethnic cultures.”