The retail strip along Melville’s Main Road is a gritty place. It’s lined with seedy bars, fast-food joints, and boarded-up storefronts. Traffic is brutal, trees are scarce, and the sidewalk is potholed.

Right in the center of it is Koljander (Afrikaans for “coriander”) — a 30-year-old cooperative home industry shop run by women. Koljander sells baked goods, ethnic food, jam, jewelry, clothing, and art — pretty much anything people can make with their own two hands. You could go there 100 times and discover something new and fabulous each time. The store also does a booming catering business, with wedding cakes being a particular specialty.

Koljander is like a mom-and-pop farm store that you’d find next to a two-lane highway in rural Virgina, except the hand-written price tags are in Afrikaans and the store is in the middle of a busy city street.

Koljander is kitschy. But these ladies make kitschiness cool.

These women have both been with Koljander for more than 20 years.

Toys.

“Lekker,” pronounced something like “LEH-cker,” is my favorite Afrikaans word. It means cool, awesome, or kick-ass. (Read a post by Lisa at Notes From Africa about the phrase “Local is Lekker.”) I’m not sure diabetic apricot jam can be lekker (sorry, diabetics), but I did buy some homemade quince jam. Haven’t tried it yet but I have high hopes.

Lots and lots of rusks. Rusks are dry biscuits, traditionally made from stale bread, which South Africans eat with tea or coffee. Rusks come in whole wheat, raisin, muesli, and several other flavors. (Joe had to translate most of the flavors because they were written in Afrikaans.) I chose a package of orange poppyseed.

Do not touch this jar of pickle. It might burn you.

These all look delicious but I haven’t found an occasion worthy of buying one yet.

The scariest, most lekker cookie pop I’ve ever seen. I do believe there is a licorice gummy snake coiled around the stick.

Koljander is lekker.

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