by: Al Houston
I had not been able to contact Sam Barqawi, proprietor of the Sugar and Spice convenience market at 4801 Frankford Ave. when I first stopped into his store. I first met Sam at a Frankford Civic Association Meeting. I was struck by his sincerity and involvement.
The following morning I was out to fetch a newspaper, and I decided to go back to Sugar and Spice. Honestly, I did not think I would find the paper in his store. How surprised I was!
This store has it all: foodstuffs, dairy products, cold cuts, drinks (both bottled and fountain) and much more. Freezer cases ring the store and there is not a vacant spot on the shelves of the several aisles. He even has hand-dipped ice cream and freshly brewed coffee. In fact, merchandise was prominently displayed everywhere my eyes took rest. This shop could rival any Wawa and, in my opinion, 7-eleven cannot compete. I found the newspaper, the one I doubted they would have, and a smile flitted across my face.
I had the added pleasure of being helped by a perfectly gracious cashier. She was pleasant and spoke fluent English. In addition, she gave me information as to when I might return to see Sam, and then offered me a piece of paper on which to scrawl my name and affiliation. I must say this visit to Sugar and Spice was a breath of fresh air. And Sam would be well advised to keep Ms. Maria Rios in his employ, for she is personable and helpful.
There are other reasons why this was a pleasant experience. First, I have lived in Frankford for about 6 years and while I am amazed by its diversity and the huge contributions of its immigrant population, there are some areas that are needy. Crime and the illicit drug trade are sometimes frighteningly apparent. At the same time, I realize the many solid citizens of Frankford who are quietly and consistently fighting these scourges. Indeed, I think the very presence of these outstanding members of our community, is a deterrent for the miscreants among us, and Sam is a pillar.
Admittedly, his store is located in an area through which I only dare to drive. In fact, I can’t remember any other time my feet pounded the sidewalk on that section of Frankford avenue. But Sam is there fighting the good fight day and night, and all the while providing a valuable service for the community.
He is aware of the nefarious activities happening just outside his doors, and he is committed to stopping these occurrences. He has installed cameras around his building and can monitor events at home, in his store, or via his cell phone. His business has been established since November 1993 and it is a source of pride and stability.
He, along with local law enforcement, has affected a measure of good change for Frankford avenue at Foulkrod street. It is people like Sam that give me hope. It is people like Sam that inspires me to continue in this community; to do what little I can do to make it a better place for all of us.