A tribute to Eddie Basha Jr.
Nathaniel T. Begay
Chief Executive Officer
Navajo Nation Shopping Centers, Inc.
April 4, 2013
As an anchor tenant, Bashas Diné Market, at seven shopping centers on the Navajo Nation, we pay tribute to Mr. Basha for his contribution to the Navajo economy. A magnate grocer icon, he was, in the state of Arizona and to the Diné (Navajo) people he was a genuine people's person, and at heart was his Native American friends and relatives including the Diné people.
It was sad news to the Navajo Nation that Basha passed away just a week into this new spring season. His Diné name, Béezhaazh, will never vanish nor his distinguish trademark wearing a silver belly cowboy hat along with his ostrich leather boots and his signature engraved elegantly with a smooth stroke of a green ink pen.
May you rest in peace, Brother Eddie.
Following is a brief storyline on Eddie's introduction to the Navajo people and his business endeavor 33 years ago.
For 33 years, Bashas Diné Market has made an invaluable imprint on lives of many Navajo people and made a major, major impact into the Navajo economy by providing goods, services, jobs, revenues, scholarship, and being the mainstay to these shopping centers for development of other Navajo businesses. Bashas is now a household name in every Navajo home.
Eddie Basha had gone as far as labeling the Bashas Market with the Diné sacred name Bashas Diné Market throughout Navajoland. Meaning that, us, the Navajo people, had inherited a stake in these stores. More importantly, Basha and family truly value and respect the relationship with the Navajo Nation for these many years.
In 1979, there were three of us, Woody Maggard, Howard Bitsui, and myself, that took a trip to Flagstaff for scheduled meetings with Babbitt Brothers Grocery Store and Safeway Supermarket, and traveled down to meet with A. J. Bayless in Phoenix and Bashas Market in Chandler, Ariz. This trip was intended to attract and secure an anchor tenant for the first shopping center to be built on the Navajo Nation.
Our presentation was thought to be the best dog and pony show ever assembled to easily lure in the big fish, a supermarket for our Navajo people. Not knowing that this supermarket would be an anchor tenant to six other shopping centers to be built later on down the road, and forever change the economic scene on the Navajo Nation.
A supermarket on the Navajo Nation in 1980 was an unthinkable task or the idea of trying to see what would happen was unimaginable. Even though there was a feasibility/market study concluding the need of a grocery store on the Navajo Nation, our presentations to Babbitt, A.J. Bayless and Safeway were disappointing, fruitless and unsuccessful.
With only one remaining grocer to visit, we met with Edward (Eddie) Basha Jr., owner of the unknown Bashas Market of Chandler. With our Diné way of thinking, "There should always be four efforts to be made".
We were all a bit nervous before our appointment, but with confidence we had a successful meeting with Eddie Basha. When we entered Basha's office, he had his boots propped up on his desk, greeted us, and offered us to sit down.
We started out with setting up our presentation charts and slide show, and he told us put that (expletive) away. He said he had been waiting for us, and was ready to build grocery stores for the Navajo people. He wanted the contract right there and to sign. That in itself is another long story in getting the lease agreement in place.
Nevertheless, that is how it all begun with Basha and his family, and now you know the rest of the story.
Since then, Eddie Basha made a commitment to the Navajo people to have these Bashas Diné Market at six other shopping centers on the Navajo Nation. That commitment remains, and despite those challenging times for Bashas Diné Market and the Navajo people, and through thick and thin challenges, Bashas' had prevailed in their bankruptcy and continues to serve the Navajo Nation.
From the Navajo Nation Shopping Centers, Inc.'s viewpoint, Bashas Diné Market instilled that cornerstone in providing the stability to the Navajo economy.
Navajo Nation Shopping Center Incorporated would like to make this a new beginning for our economic growth and prosperity..."Seasons of Change Brings New Beginnings".