Tucson, Arizona is a city with a population of about 550,000, perhaps best known as home for the University of Arizona. It is also home to Al Basha Grocery, a small provisions store that caters to local Muslims. There are—possibly—some 9,000-to-10,000 Muslims in the greater Tucson area.
Al Basha Grocery could be one of hundreds of similar stores across America. We are intrigued by their efforts because of their inclusive, faith-based approach to customer relations. The store also caters to a similarly-small Jewish population, supplying kosher goods that may not be commonly available in the local retail market.
Added Insight: Arizona has a total statewide population around 7 million. There may be near 120,000 Muslims resident in the entire state. In common discourse, Arizona is best known for its Republican politics, but that may not be an accurate reflection of political dynamics, given recent shifts favoring Democrats. One reason is the massive increase in the state’s Spanish-speaking population over the past 20 years.
Why We Care: Tucson seems like an unlikely corner of America in which a halal-focused grocery store with a Jewish customer base can prosper. Yet the entrepreneurial spirit supersedes religious differences, even outside the largest metropolitan areas. This slice of American culture is often missed in headline newsflow and populist sentiment, both domestically and internationally.
Bottom Line: Even in an era of online shopping, local businesses thrive because of the communities they serve, at times with an interfaith twist. Is there an implied limit to how far e-commerce can penetrate our lifestyles?
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Image shows Arizona desert. Credit: Loftisg at Can Stock Photo.