From City Market to Bashas' Diné Market: Shiprock's only grocery store continues service

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — The sounds of employees restocking shelves and equipment beeping filled the former City Market on July 20 as workers transformed the location into a Bashas' Diné Market.

Bashas' Family of Stores, based in Chandler, Arizona, acquired the grocery store from City Market's parent company, The Kroger Co., within the last year.

City Market opened in 1986 and was the anchor tenant of the shopping center managed by the tribal enterprise, Navajo Nation Shopping Center Inc.

The store closed at 8 p.m. on July 19 and reopened under the Bashas' name on July 21. It is the ninth grocery store Bashas' operates on the Navajo Nation and its second location in New Mexico.

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During the closure, Bashas' managers from across Arizona, from its headquarters and from store locations across the tribal land helped ready the store and train store employees.

Johnny Basha, the company's vice president of special projects, explained that Bashas' was contacted by Kroger last year about their plans to close the store and inquired about whether or not Bashas' would be interested in the location.

Melissa Barela, director of floral with Bashas' Family of Stores, places tomatoes on July 20 in the produce department of the new Bashas' Diné Market in Shiprock.

"Current market conditions, coupled with the changing retail environment, made it difficult for us to continue to operate this location. We are grateful for the work of our associates who have served the community with heart and commitment," Jessica Trowbridge, corporate affairs manager for King Soopers and City Market, said in an email on July 21.

Trowbridge added that the company is pleased to have worked with Bashas' as they took over the location, "ensuring that the community continues to have access to the fresh food they need."

Bashas' hired most of the City Market associates who worked at the store, while others transferred to other locations under City Market, according to a press release.

Ashley Shick, a Bashas' spokesperson, said the Shiprock store will employ approximately 60 people, all members of the Navajo Nation.

In the press release, Bashas' explained that the store in Shiprock will follow its other locations in giving back 25% of its profits to the tribe.

RAM Studios Signs employees on July 20 remove the City Market name from the grocery store location in Shiprock. Bashas' Family of Stores acquired the location and opened Bashas' Diné Market the next day.

"Through this profit-sharing arrangement, in addition to rent and percentage rent, Bashas' has contributed upwards of $48 million to the Navajo Nation for educational scholarship and economic development," the release states.

Among the offerings Bashas' is bringing to customers in the Northern Agency are fresh doughnuts and breakfast burritos as well as selling coffee and fountain drinks in its deli section.

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Deli Clerk Barbara Toledo-Chambers said customers always ask about fresh coffee.

"I told customers to come back that they'll have more food and we're going to have breakfast burritos from scratch," Toledo-Chambers said.

Bashas' personnel also touted that the grocery store will offer fresh cut meat and ground beef made in-store, both adding to the level of quality Bashas' offers to customers.

In the meat department, meat managers Beulah Blackrock and Edith Antone were busy setting up the area while waiting for new meat cutting equipment to arrive.

Beulah Blackrock, front, and Edith Antone, back, both meat managers with Bashas' Diné Market, ready on July 20 the meat department inside the grocery store company's newest location in Shiprock.

Blackrock, who works in the Kayenta, Arizona store, and Antone, who works in the Crownpoint store, were excited about the Shiprock store opening.

"Now we know there's a Four Corners store with Bashas' name on it," Antone said.

While changes to the store's appearance are minimal at this time, a full remodel is planned in about a year, Shick said.

Bashas' is planning an official celebration for the store on Aug. 7.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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