Deep Roots 2

A quick look at Bashas’ history in Arizona

Although Bashas’ has been around 83 years now, the company’s roots in Arizona and Chandler go back much further than that.

It was in 1884 that Tanuis Basha moved from Lebanon to New York City to start a new life in the New World. He brought over his son, Najeeb, a bit later.

New York hosted a thriving Lebanese community at the turn of the 20th Century, and Najeeb picked a bride from it in 1901. Her name was nearly the same as his—Najeeby.  Najeeby had family in Arizona who wrote of the success they were enjoying in the territory’s mining towns. Najeeb went to check it out, and in 1910 his growing family joined him.

They started in Congress Junction, then moved to Ray-Sonora. But the future looked to be in the Valley of the Sun, so in 1920 Najeeb constructed two buildings in Chandler: one a home for his family of 10 on North Washington Street, the other a mercantile on East Boston Street.

The 1920s were happy times for the Basha family and their mercantile, but the period came to a sad and near-disastrous end in 1932 when patriarch Najeeb died of complications from diabetes.

Not everyone realizes that Najeeb’s boys, Ike and Eddie, started the first Bashas’ store mainly as a means of helping support their widowed mother and six sisters. Bills from their father’s medical care and funeral left the family’s general store near financial ruin.  But the boys heard of a business opportunity in the cotton farming community of Goodyear (now Ocotillo), south of Chandler, and that changed everything.  This little company town needed a mercantile, so the boys opened one, named it for the whole family (hence the plural possessive), and enjoyed success.

The chain grew slowly at first, but gathered momentum.  It branched out to Mesa in 1936.  By the end of the 1930s there were four Bashas’ stores; 20 years later, after founding brother Ike Basha passed in 1958, there were nine—including the first store in the then-new “supermarket” format, Bashas’ #3 at 7th Avenue and Osborn in Phoenix, opened in 1956.

Growth over the next decade was steady, but 1968 witnessed the passing of Eddie and the rise to prominence of his son, Eddie Jr.  The “Eddie Era” was the most dynamic in company history.  By the end of the 1960s, Bashas’ had grown to 17 stores; by the end of the 1970s there were 27.  After that, growth was meteoric: Bashas’ had 52 stores by the end of the 1980s and 92 stores by the end of the 1990s.  By the early 2000s the count was as high as 160, and Bashas’ had become Bashas’ Family of Stores, embracing not only Bashas’ but also Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, Bashas’ Diné and Eddie’s Country Store.  Progressive Grocer magazine named Bashas’ its Retailer of the Year for 2005.

Today, Bashas’ Family of Stores is in the midst of an aggressive store remodeling program.  Eight Bashas’ locations and four Food City stores got overhauls in 2014, and 19 more remodels will be complete by the end of 2015.

Founded to support a family of nine, Bashas’ today is a family of 8,500 at 119 locations across Arizona.  But the heart of the company remains where it’s always been: in Chandler, where the corporate offices sit on the very spot where Ike and Eddie opened that first store in 1932.