CHICAGO — For years major retailers and big box stores have struggled to maintain a presence on the city’s South Side. But one minority business owner is hoping this is just the beginning for his grocery store.   

A few months ago business owner Felix Leshey opened up Bamenda Fresh, a new neighborhood grocery store in Chicago’s South Deering neighborhood.  

“The community was very welcoming very receptive, but also not shy about what they need,” he said.

Hoping to please his customers Leshay is all ears when it comes to their needs.  As residents welcome the black-owned store, Leshay is doing his best to tailor his inventory to meet the community’s needs. 

“The number one request was fresh produce,” he said. “The second request was quality products. The other was can we get some one time buys.”

Leshey spent more than two decades managing retail stores at Sam’s Club. He admits a successful small business requires adapting to customer feedback while maintaining affordable prices.  

His level of commitment impressed Eschelle Mohn. She’s founder of the South Deering Manor Community Association. She noticed how Leshey took an interest in the neighborhood and regularly attended community meetings.  

“Not only should the community have what they desire, but the small business owner should also be part of that involvement,” she said.

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In addition to hiring local at his store, Leshey is eager to help other minority businesses.  

Bamenda foods plans to host community events celebrating black history month and a farmers’ market in the summer. 

Felix Leshey: he is one of Chicago’s Very Own.