Coming to the United States in 1980, Sagir Ahmed had no idea when he left Bangladesh that the convenience store he would eventually open would contain so much history.
S & S Grocery, named after Ahmed and his old partner, is getting close to 30-years-old, but the building has been there much longer than that. The almost 90-year-old building, located at the corner of NW 16th Street and N Youngs Blvd. in central Oklahoma City, has been home to many different businesses over the years.
Built in 1925, the two-story structure—empty apartments above the store fronts—was first an AT&T office. Ahmed recalled a misplaced original White Pages with two and three digit phone numbers from the store’s past. He also had a 1950s cash register left from a previous business.
When S & S began in the mid 1980s, the building had three store fronts—a florist, the Aloha Paradise Bar and Nightclub, and their convenience store. Ahmed has owned the building itself now for almost 20 years, and his store is the only operating business left.
Other businesses prior to Ahmed’s included a Laundromat and a diner.
The store’s interior is narrow but deep thanks to a remodel 15 years back, adding extra freezer doors where the old bar used to be. There are bars on the windows, and the walls inside are a mix of exposed brick and white paint.
Looking at the exterior east-facing wall, the door to the nightclub is still visible but painted over. The nightclub’s old sign is also still there but now painted over in a chipping green paint that matches the other S & S signs.
There is constant foot traffic—some of the customers being regulars since the store’s creation. Ahmed said that he sees people that are now in there twenties that came to his store as kids.
Ahmed monitors the neighborhood and community, and he changes his business as it is needed. When he opened, he said that the neighborhood was mostly white. The community is now more Guatemalan. Because of the area’s “immigrant melting pot,” he continues to carry what is needed to keep his store successful.
Soon to be dubbed a historic landmark of the city, Ahmed hopes to continue his business for years to come.
KYLE SCHWAB, STAFF WRITER