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Why this Ukrainian business owner is okay paying a little more at the pump

Why this Ukrainian business owner is okay paying a little more at the pump
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 18:05:21-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- As Americans feel the pinch of record-breaking gas prices, a Ukrainian business owner in Henrico wants people to remember the reason why the U.S. is feeling economic impacts in the first place.

Nestled in a shopping center off West Broad Street, European Deli offers a variety of treats and meats that span a whole continent.

"This is sausage and salami," said store owner Tetyana Nikolayeva as she walked past the meat counter. "We have Romanian-style, German-style, and a little bit Italian."

While customers can enjoy foods from several countries, the heart of the business is rooted in Ukraine. Nikolayeva and her husband moved from Ukraine to the United States 25 years ago, and she's been operating the deli since 2001.

“I was happy I can help people," Nikolayeva said about taking over the establishment.

But her happiness has been fading over the weeks as she watches the Russian invasion of her home country where many of her family members still live in fear. Nikolayeva said some are hiding in bomb shelters.

“They live in basements," she said. "It’s terrible. They have no food or clothes.”

With each devastating image on the news and every tearful conversation with her brother, her heart breaks even more.

“Small children cry," Nikolayeva said. “It’s too much for this small country.”

Meanwhile, the impacts of the war are being felt at the pump.

“The gas prices are ridiculous," said Sherman Trueheart as he filled up his tank at a Wawa on West Broad Street Wednesday, spending $115.

Fuel prices have been skyrocketing following a ban from President Biden on Russian energy imports.

“America has always tried to play the big brother, the peacemaker across the earth," Trueheart said.

However, he believes those efforts shouldn't hurt Americans' wallets in return.

“We can help anybody in the world, you can help everybody here in the United States, but that should not affect gas prices," he said.

Back at European Deli, Nikolayeva and her daughter, Ania Smith, don't mind paying extra if it means supporting Ukraine.

“If the cost of trying to prevent something as bad as that [war] is paying a little bit more, then it is what it is," Smith said.

Smith said the deli is collecting donations in an effort to send bulletproof vests and other supplies to Ukrainian combat forces through a Ukrainian mail service.

If you'd like to join the mission, you can make a donation by stopping by European Deli at 9026 West Broad Street.

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