Kolou Marketplace opens to serve the neighborhood
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, October 2020) The Kolou Marketplace at 4700 Bridge Avenue is now open and serving the neighborhood.
Siba Beavogul, Kolou Beavogul and their son Laville and daughter Tenin hosted an opening ceremony for Kolou’s Marketplace on August 27th, 2020. The store will serve as a neighborhood convenience store as well as an African import store offering a variety of specialty foods.
The store’s opening is a dream come true for Siba and Kolou Beavogul. The dream began to take shape about seven years ago with the purchase of the building. The task then became how to undertake and finance the repairs and remodeling.
At the opening ceremony Siba and Kolou Beavogul greeted guests, offered tours of the store, and had plenty of tasty food for all the guests.
Father Bob Begin, Pastor Emeritus of St. Colman Church, became involved in helping the Beavogul’s with the project after they purchased the building. Fr. Begin said at first when he saw the condition of the building, he thought “this is not going to work.” Begin said a business advisor once told him, “Get the business going first. Don’t buy the building first.”
Father Begin helped to connect the family to available development resources. At the beginning, Begin said the building had no roof and barely a door. Speaking of the Beavogul’s devotion to the project, Begin praised their commitment and persistence.
Begin said Rebecca Perera of the Economic and Community Development Institute proved to be an angel for the project. Perera in turn recruited help from Business Advisors of Cleveland, an organization which uses volunteer business executives to help advise small businesses. John Nunnari became the lead point person from Business Advisors of Cleveland. Nunnari estimates he devoted 30 to 40 hours a month to helping with the project over the past five years.
Nunnari helped to create a large team to deal with the financing, architectural services, contractors and countless trades people. He assisted in the purchase of a modern electric cash register, flooring, walls and awnings.
As for the financing of the repairs, Fr. Bob Begin said, “First Federal of Lakewood came to our aid.” Tom Fraser of First Federal of Lakewood noted the bank has an office at Gordon Square in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. He explained that the bank is a mutual bank and all the deposits get reinvested in the community. Fraser shared his story with those present at the ceremony, saying he had roots in the neighborhood. He said he grew up in the neighborhood and his sister still lives in the family house on 54th and Bridge.
The Beavogul family, originally from Guinea in West Africa, is now deeply involved in the Near West Side of Cleveland. Siba and Kolou are not only are residents and business owners in the neighborhood, they also have grandchildren attending neighborhood schools.
The new store lies on the boundary between Ward 3 and Ward 15. At the ceremony, Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack thanked everyone involved in helping to make it possible for the store to open. Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone acknowledged a number of people who helped with the project and singled out special praise for the efforts of Father Bob Begin saying “if not for his stewardship, this project might not be.”
PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Thursday, August 27, 2020; Opening Ceremony Kolou’s Marketplace, 4700 Bridge Avenue: (L-R) Pastor Emeritus of St. Colman Church Father Bob Begin, Siba Beavogui, and Kolou Beavogui. Father Begin offers a blessing for the new market opened by the Beavogui family.