Bordering Denver on the east is a city considered the most ethnically-diverse in Colorado due to its growing immigrant population. With this influx has come increased demand for authentic Middle Eastern and African products, halal meats and hookah products.
Brothers Mohamed and Yasir Elradi, and their cousin Saleh Musaid, all of whom emigrated from northern Africa, saw an opportunity and purchased the empty Aladdin Market in 2008. Since then, they have successfully stocked their shelves with food, staples, spices and hard-to-find ingredients from Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and beyond. Aladdin Market also serves the religious needs of their customers by providing select produce and fresh Halal meat which is humanely slaughtered according to Islamic law.
Colorado Enterprise Fund involvement
To upgrade and stock their international grocery store, Mohamed Elradi first sought funding from local banks, as well as community organizations supporting Colorado’s refugee community. Being new to the area and business, he didn’t have the track record traditional banks looked for. Mohamed was referred to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) in 2010 which provided a loan to expand store inventory and equipment. He also tapped into CEF's Business Advisory Services (BAS) team of consultants for marketing help. Mohamed returned in 2015 and qualified for a Healthy Foods Fund loan which helped him stock more fresh healthy foods.
“The loans we got from CEF were a big boost to our business,” said Mohamed, helping him add a business area to his store along with a new bakery unit, kitchen, and staff. Future expansion plans include opening a fast food restaurant inside the store serving Middle Eastern sandwiches like gyros, shawarma and fatayer – a popular type of meat pie.
Aladdin Market continues to offer the largest selection of food and household products in the Denver area to meet the needs of its Middle Eastern and African customers. Mohamed and his cousin Saleh, who runs day-to-day operations, dream of selling their unique collection of foods and staples online. "We are known for our extensive products from all over the Middle East and for our great customer service,” added Mohamed. “We would like to expand our business to better serve these different cultures."