Nepali husband-wife duo win ‘minority-owned business of the year’ award

Left: Husband-wife duo Pramod Nyaupane and Bibhuti Thapa, owners of Bunny's Convenience store with SBA Director Isabel Guzman. (Courtesy Bibhuti Thapa)

Left: Husband-wife duo Pramod Nyaupane and Bibhuti Thapa, owners of Bunny's Convenience store with SBA Director Isabel Guzman. (Courtesy Bibhuti Thapa)

By Mrinali Dhembla

May 1, 2024

If you’ve ever walked down the commercial strip on Elm Street in downtown Manchester, chances that you’ve passed Bunny’s Convenience Store are (very) high.

Owners of the convenience store Pramod Nyaupane and Bibhuti Thapa, both in their 40s, were in jubilant spirits Wednesday morning, after being bestowed Small Business Administration’s (SBA) “minority-owned business of the year” award this week. SBA Director Isabel Guzman presented the award to the husband-wife duo at a formal ceremony in Derry on Tuesday.

The award was announced in March, and Nyuapane said it was very “exciting” to get recognized for his hard work and achievements.

For both Nyaupane and Thapa, who are originally from Kathmandu in Nepal, getting into retail business was a natural progression, until it became the best professional option for them.

“Both of us came to (the US) in 2002. But we were complete strangers to each other,” Nyaupane said, adding that they both met as employees at a 7-Eleven on South Main Street in Manchester.

Thapa, who was pursuing a master’s in business administration at Southern New Hampshire University, wanted to set up her own business and thought, “Why don’t we start our own?”

That’s when the couple rented their first store, called Shop-N- Go, near Elliot Hospital in Manchester in 2007. They sold that business in 2013-2014, Nyaupane said.

In 2010, the couple purchased Bunny’s Superette, another neighborhood store on Webster Street in Manchester. The business is a landmark of North Manchester and has been around for more than 80 years, Thapa said.

They had another retail business on Mammoth Road that they purchased in 2009, but ended up selling the business (they still own the building) soon after in 2011, when the couple welcomed their son Arnav Nyaupane.

While Bunny’s Convenience could be mistaken as any other mini-mart, Thapa said what sets it apart from other grocery stores is customer service.

“We keep changing the stuff, rearranging the store depending on customer needs,” she said. “When I see new faces I introduce myself and then I ask them, ‘If you need anything over here tell me’… anything they need, I have ordered it here.”

Nyaupane applauded his wife’s entrepreneurial skills and said she develops a rapport with every new customer and any Elm Street office-goers who frequent their store.

“She did a really, really good job to build (our business) from scratch,” he said.

The couple acknowledged that it wasn’t easy getting to where they are today.

“The day we opened this store we only did a $300- $400 business,” he said. “But now we have started real estate investments, and we plan to expand. Maybe for another 4-5 years we will push harder and then slow down.”

The pandemic was particularly “tricky” for them, Nyaupane recalled, but they kept the store open every day.

“One quarter we were really down, but slowly the business picked up,” he said. “Downtown is full of offices and restaurants, and when they shut, that had a setback on us.”

After more than two decades of being Granite Staters, the couple has developed deep love for New Hampshire and its community.

“We love New Hampshire. It is a good state to live in … it is an educated state, and people are very welcoming,” Thapa said. “We have done our share here, and the people have done theirs.”

For any other aspirational immigrants and newcomers, they have one piece of advice:

“Expect, that we have to go an extra mile and have to take an extra step … We have to do a little bit more work than other people. Don’t take anything for granted.”

As for hopes and aspirations for the future?

“To retire,” they both said, breaking into laughter. “We have been working seven days a week since the day we came (to America),” Thapa said.



Author

  • Mrinali Dhembla

    Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Mrinali Dhembla is Granite Post's multimedia reporter. She's previously worked as deputy editor at The Keene Sentinel, and has experience writing for many national and international publications. When not doing journalism, she likes to cook food (and eat it).

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