Quite a few years back, when I was working my then-gig of being an education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages (a non-profit, fair trade retailer in Downtown Champaign), my boss took a trip with other TTV store managers to the Philippines to get to know our artisan partners there. When she returned, we put on a volunteer appreciation event at TTV featuring Filipino dishes from Maligaya's Store. That was how I first became acquainted with Maligaya’s Store on West Springfield Avenue in Champaign. Revisiting the store for this article showed that — although time has passed — my nice memories of the store and what it offered a few years ago matched my present experience.


I gave myself the task to find the ingredients for halo halo, a scrumptious cold dessert which features shaved ice layered with fresh and jarred fruits and sweet beans, sweetened condensed milk, ube jam or ice cream, and potentially more. I was impressed at the time with how easy it was to shop Maligaya’s Store. It was well stocked with authentic staples with a main focus on Filipino foods in particular, but the store carried a variety of dry, fresh, canned, and frozen goods from other parts of Asia.

A view of the simple sign which reads “Maligaya’s Store Oriental Goods” on a sunny day. The  store is located in a shopping center with a brown metal awning supported by white rough brick columns. The sign sits on the brown awning; beneath it in the storefront windows the red and white “Open” sign is lit. The windows also contain a few advertisements for some of their products and services. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

Maligaya’s Store was small but made incredible use of its space. A freezer section, offering meat, seafood, and other perishable items, spanned at least half a wall. 

A view down an aisle: one side contains shelving with packaged chips, jarred/canned fruits, and prepared drinks. At the end of the aisle is a double-door cooler with specialty items; they aren’t visible from the outside. The other side of the aisle contains see-through coolers/freezers filled with meat, seafood, and other perishable items. The view terminates in a view of a wall with slightly larger than notebook-sized posters of movies available for rent. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

They had two coolers: one for vegetables and one for drinks and specialty items. You can find fresh produce like green onions, garlic, tomatoes, radishes, long beans, cabbage, and bottle gourds, among many other varieties of fresh vegetables.

A double-door glass cooler contains neatly stacked and labeled fresh produce. There are green onions, garlic, tomatoes, radishes, long beans, chinese cabbage, and bottle gourds, among many other varieties of fresh vegetables. A small sign taped to the top left door reads “WE ACCEPT IL LINK CARD.” Photo by Rachael McMillan.

Photo by Rachael McMillan.

There were a few shelves dedicated to unrefrigerated fresh produce such as plantains, bananas, yams, cassavas, onions, potatoes, and more. All of these looked very fresh and appealing when I visited.

Cardboard boxes filled with various types of produce sit on low shelves: Bright purple sweet potatoes fill two boxes; one has squat, pumpkin-shaped squash that is green in color with some blooms of orange and white flecks striped throughout; one has large, carrot-shaped cassavas with rough brown skin; two others contain other root vegetables. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

Bulk rice can be purchased in amounts up to 25 pounds.

Dark metal industrial shelving holds large sacks of rice in different varieties on the bottom shelf, with smaller bags on the top shelf. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

There was also a nice selection of specialty noodles, soups, drink mixes, biscuits, and cookies. There was a small section of personal care items at the bottom of the shelves, as well.

A view down two aisles with the fresh produce ending in a perpendicular view of the fresh produce. The shelves of the aisles are lined with neat packages in bright wrappings. Some contain soups and noodles; others drink mixes, biscuits, and cookies. There is a small section of personal care items at the bottom of the shelves on the left. It is a sunny day, and the brightly-lit window above the boxes of produce is accented by a large “Open” sign and some festive paper lanterns. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

Sauces of all kinds have been my food obsession lately, and I felt like Maligaya’s provided me with a great means of indulging it. They had Filipino soy sauce of which I purchased a quart, a nice variety of garlicky chili sauces, banana sauce (similar to ketchup, if you’re not familiar), and many others that I’d love to give a try.

Another close-up view of the sauce aisle provides a more detailed view of, among other things,  their selection of banana sauce, which appears similar to bottled ketchup, Filipino spaghetti sauce in colorful red, green, and yellow bags and bottles, Filipino soy sauce in varying-sized bottles, and a selection of Pocky biscuit sticks. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

The store has a nice assortment of quick meals, snack foods, sweet treats, and a selection of instant soups and noodles as well. You can also find a small variety of buns and other bakery goods.

 A close-up of one of the main aisles shows a selection of instant soups and noodles. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

While I was there, I noticed a sign which advertises that they carry balut which I understand is a favorite food in the Philippines. Balut is a cooked egg with an almost-fully developed duck embryo inside. If I try one, I would like to have someone who knows the ropes show me how to do it, so although I wasn’t in the market for it that day, it was neat to see that it was available.

Maligaya’s Store is only open from noon to five in the evening on weekdays only, so pop in between those times if you’d like to check out their tasty offerings.

A close up of the chips and jarred/canned fruit aisle shows their offerings in more detail. Purple ube jam and white macapuno (mutant coconut) is visible in jars, as are packages of pork cracklings and canned nectars. Photo by Rachael McMillan.Photo by Rachael McMillan.

It is also worth noting that they are looking to relocate shortly to a complex near Rural King in Champaign. In the meantime, visit them on West Springfield Avenue near Kenwood. You’re sure to find either a favorite — either old or new, depending upon your familiarity with Asian cuisine — amongst their well-stocked goods.

Maligaya’s Store
2410 W. Springfield Ave
Champaign
M-F noon to 5 p.m.

Top image by Rachael McMillan.