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Najeeby Srour Basha  (b. 1885, d. 1966)
Najeeby Srour Basha, with her children Najeeby Basha's former residence (now owned by Eva Serrano family, granddaughter of Najeeby) 332 N. Washington St., Chandler, AZ
Najeeby Srour Basha played an important economic role in the family business, making vital decisions to nurture the growth of the family's early mercantile stores and the Bashas' grocery chain that started in 1932. A Lebanese immigrant, she worked with her husband and children to build this prominent Arizona business which had its roots in the towns of Ray/Sonora and Chandler.

Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women at Work

Najeeby Srour, born in 1885 in Zahle, Lebanon, immigrated to New York with her family in 1893. At the age of sixteen, she married local merchant Najeeb Basha. They moved to Arizona around 1910 and started a small, general mercantile store in the mining town of Ray/Sonora, Arizona. In 1919 the family moved to Chandler, built their home on Washington Street and then opened their dry goods store on east Boston Street, in downtown Chandler, the following year. They named their business the Boston Store. Najeeby managed this store while Najeeb managed the store in Ray. Najeeby, who could neither read nor write, created a unique bookkeeping system for their business. Like many other business owners in early Arizona, she learned several languages to communicate with her clientele, including Spanish, English and Pima. Between overseeing her children, their school activities, and the store's operation, Najeeby was the center of the family and a very busy woman. Her Washington Street home became a hub of activity. Najeeby was known as a generous woman who would feed anyone who needed a meal, even the hobos that rode the rails into Chandler's depot, just a few blocks from her house.

In 1932, Najeeb passed away, leaving Najeeby and her two sons, Ike and Eddie Sr., to run the family business (as well as daughters Edna, Mary, Connie, Zelma and Camille). They also opened their first store named "Bashas'"in 1932, located in the Chandler area in present-day Ocotillo (then called Goodyear). This became the first grocery store in what would become a successful chain throughout Arizona. As head of the household, Najeeby continued to work countless hours caring for her family and running the store on Boston Street. She was involved in every aspect of the business. Her sons expanded the Bashas' chain while most of her daughters managed or performed other important jobs to keep the business running. The stores grew from two in Chandler in the early 1930s, to nearly 130 stores across the state today. In addition to helping to manage the business over the years, Najeeby also set an example to her children by giving back to the community through charity work and public service. Najeeby passed away in 1966.

Photo Credits:
Najeeby Srour Basha, with her children - Courtesy of the Basha family

 

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