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Casablanca Bazar: Bringing Moroccan artistry into the homes of Champaign County 

View of the interior of the store Casablanca Bazar in Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana. On display are tables with ceramic serving and cookware, and shelves of accessories.
Lincoln Square Mall on Instagram

Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of fashion, décor, and other stunning merchandise. Casablanca Bazar is now open in Lincoln Square Mall. Casablanca Bazar incorporates the beauty of Moroccan culture into various handmade crafts for all to enjoy. Each item is made with the utmost care and attention to detail, the store hopes to share these artistic traditions of Morocco with the Champaign area.

Walking into this store for the first time, I could already tell it had a special feel to it. I was impressed by the unique design and displacement of each item. It was nice to see something new from the standard layouts of other stores. Each item was organized in a visually pleasing manner, making it easy to scout out any new potential additions to my home.  

Casablanca Bazar Facebook

I had the pleasure of speaking with Casablanca Bazar’s store owner, Said Mhaouer. Being a lifetime admirer of Moroccan heritage, Mhaouer’s inspiration behind opening Casablanca Bazar stems from a deep appreciation for Moroccan culture, art, and craftsmanship. Being captivated by the beauty and uniqueness of these handmade items, he knew he wanted others to experience the greatness of it all. 

With great determination, and with the help of his wife, the couple rented a space in Lincoln Square Mall. After more than three months of remodeling and getting the products shipped from Morocco, the store officially opened on April 18th

“Casablanca Bazar can hold a special meaning because it provides an opportunity to connect with the rich heritage and craftsmanship of Morocco. Casablanca Bazar contributes to the sustainability and growth of these communities,” says Mhaouer. “Additionally, Casablanca Bazar allows customers to bring a piece of Moroccan culture into their lives. The unique and authentic products available in the store can evoke a sense of wonder and appreciation for the artistry and attention to detail involved in their creation. This can create a meaningful connection between customers and the cultural traditions of Morocco.” 

While giving me a tour of the place, Mhaouer introduced me to some unique products that he expects to stand out to customers the most. For me, it would, without a doubt, be the hand-shaped and hand-painted pottery. Each dish is uniquely made with various types of clay. The texture of the dish would be determined by the type of clay used. Some have a rough surface, some have a smooth surface, and some are in-between. Once the dish is shaped, it’s then painted and decorated.

View of the interior of the store Casablanca Bazar in Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana. On display are shelves with gold vases, ceramic serving and cookware, and shelves of accessories.
Casablanca Bazar Facebook

A piece of pottery that is exclusive to Moroccan culture is the tajine. The way Americans have shakers for our salt and pepper, a butter dish to serve, or how we serve olive oil with a dipping dish. The traditional tajine consists of two parts: a circular base unit that is flat with low sides (similar to an American dinner plate) and a large cone-shaped cover that sits on top. Tajines are made in all different sizes to accommodate whatever is being served, and the height of the cone is often also switched up. “These are made for serving, but can also be used as a small decoration,” said Mhaouer.  

Learning more about the cultural significance of Casablanca Bazar’s merchandise, I gained a much deeper appreciation for all of the products they offer. Mhaouer is incredibly knowledgeable of every item in his store, which will without a doubt enhance the shopping experience for each of his customers as it did for me. 

With such a fantastic store atmosphere, Mhaouer envisions his store contributing to the local community in many ways. “The first thing is economic support. By sourcing products directly from local artisans and cooperatives, Casablanca Bazar can contribute to the local economy. This direct collaboration can provide artisans with a fair and sustainable income, which in turn supports their families and communities. Another thing is cultural exchange and awareness. The store can act as a bridge between cultures, introducing the local community to the rich cultural heritage of Morocco. Through the unique products and the stories behind them, customers can gain a deeper appreciation for Moroccan traditions, fostering cultural exchange and understanding.”

When thinking up a long-term goal for the store, all Mhaouer wants is to expand the business in a way more people in the community can see it. “We hope to make it into a much bigger place, or just somewhere that’ll have lots of traffic,” explains Mhaouer. “A store like Casablanca Bazar may aspire to expand its physical presence by opening additional branches in different locations or exploring online platforms to reach a broader customer base. The increased visibility can help the store attract more customers and generate greater awareness of its unique offerings.”

My first visit to Casablanca Bazar did not disappoint. Next time you find yourself in the Lincoln Square area, be sure to stop by! I expect a great shopping experience for all who step through its doors!

Casablanca Bazar
300 S Broadway ave
T-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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