In an effort to ensure Navajo people’s continued access to quality, nutritious food in Shiprock, N.M., Bashas’ Family of Stores will open a 42,108-square-foot Diné Market on the Navajo Nation on July 21. Currently a City Market, the location—anchoring the Tse’ Bit’ A’i Shopping Center at the corner of US 491 and Highway 64—will mark Bashas’ ninth grocery store on the Navajo Nation and second in New Mexico.
Since opening its first Diné Market in 1982, Bashas’ has been an active and involved member of the Navajo Nation, supporting education, nutrition, art, health and wellness through community programs and collaborations, the company said.
“This is a great partnership between the Navajo Nation and Bashas’ that will benefit Shiprock and surrounding communities,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a statement. “I extend my appreciation to the Bashas’ family for supporting our Navajo communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and going above and beyond to ensure the safety of our community members and employees.
“With this new venture, we want to continue providing more healthy food and beverage options for our people to empower them to embrace healthy and active living to combat diabetes and other health issues,” Nez added.
The new grocery store will provide several economic benefits to the Shiprock community. Each Bashas’ Diné Market location gives back 25% of its profits to the Navajo Nation. 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 company said.
“We appreciate the Basha family’s commitment to acquire the grocery store in the Shiprock/Tse’ Bit’ A’i Shopping Center,” said Navajo Nation VP Myron Lizer. “We welcome this new Bashas’ Diné Market to Shiprock and look forward to seeing the many ways the Navajo Nation will benefit from this partnership.”
Across the Navajo Nation, at least 95% of Bashas’ Dine Market store members (employees) are Native American. According to its most recent employment figures, Bashas’ currently employs nearly 500 people on the Navajo Nation.
“We look forward to the transition and to welcoming Bashas’ Diné Markets to the Shiprock Shopping Center,” said Nicholas Taylor, CEO of Navajo Nation Shopping Centers Inc., which manages the shopping center. “City Market has served the community well and now we look forward to Bashas’ Diné Market joining the community to provide jobs, fresh, healthy and local foods, and services to the Navajo people, as they have since 1982.”
Local tribe leaders have echoed Taylor’s sentiments regarding City Market’s contributions to the community since its opening in 1986.
“On behalf of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, we would like to extend our upmost gratitude to City Market for the years they have served the Shiprock community and the Navajo Nation,” said 24th Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon (Bááháálí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Tsé Łichíí’, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh). “We appreciate Bashas’ stepping up to serve our Navajo people in the Northern Agency with this new grocery store.”
The transition has been a collaborative effort between Bashas’ and City Market, say the retailers, who are working together to provide continuity as the only full-service market in the vicinity changes hands. Bashas’ will hire a majority of the City Market associates who worked at the location, which will officially close at 8 p.m. July 19. Some City Market employees will be transferred to other locations.
“Our Zero Hunger, Zero Waste social impact plan includes making sure our communities have access to fresh foods and essentials,” said Steve Burnham, City Market president, in a statement. “With this commitment in mind, we are pleased to be working with Bashas’ as they take over the operation of this location, ensuring that the community continues to have access to the fresh food they need.”
One of few non-Native American retailers with stores on the Navajo Nation, Bashas’ said it has “learned a great deal about creating stores by and for the Navajo people, from the products on store shelves to the visual elements that emphasize native design, symbols and decorative art.”
“Bashas’ Diné Markets exist and succeed because of our commitment to the Navajo people,” said Johnny Basha, VP of special projects for Bashas’ Family of Stores. “From the beginning, we’ve considered it a privilege to work side by side with the Navajo, to learn about and from them, and to share in a vision for stimulating economic growth. The strength of this partnership rests largely on the value and emphasis we’ve put into developing our cultural proficiency and creating markets that serve the unique needs of shoppers.”
The Arizona-based Bashas’ Family of Stores, a family-owned grocer that operates more than 100 stores under banners including Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, Eddie’s Country Store, and both Bashas’ and Bashas’ Diné supermarkets, said it plans to conduct a full store remodel of the Shiprock Diné Market next year.