For Mehari Abraha, opening up a new store is just another bold step in a life that has taken him from East Africa to Dallas, Texas, to Mountlake Terrace.
On April 28, Abraha opened the doors to Asmara 99 Plus, a new store located in the West Plaza Shopping Center. Abraha described the new enterprise as a convenience store that will offer a selection of expected items (sodas, candy, cigarettes), some unexpected products (paper goods and cleaning supplies during its first week), and some ethnic foods from East Africa (lentils and fava beans).
“I thought this part of town needed a convenience store,” Abraha said.
Abraha will operate the store with some help from his wife, Tsige, and college-aged daughter Lula, who splits her time between Mountlake Terrace and Los Angeles. “He’s a risk taker,” Lula said of her dad.
Abraha has taken plenty of risks in his life; the biggest may be his move from East Africa to Dallas in 1991. Abraha was encouraged to come to America by friends in 1991, “because of the freedom there,” he said. After two years in Texas Abraha moved to Washington state.
The Asmara 99 Plus store, 23206-57th Ave. W., is just the latest of business endeavors that Abraha has taken on. He has opened other stores in the past, and currently helps manage a Seattle taxi cab service and works nights at the Seattle Times production plant in Bothell.
“If you don’t risk, you don’t get nothing,” Abraha explained of his past entrepreneurial endeavors.
The store is named after the capital city of Eritrea, an East African country on the Red Sea coast, and signifies that all goods being sold there cost 99 cents or more.
The space was thinly stocked during its first week of operations, but Abraha hopes to add more products in the coming weeks.
While Abraha, his wife and two high school sons make Mountlake Terrace home, daughter Lula is pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, something she readily admits is somewhat of a risky move of her own.
“I get it from my dad,” Lula said.
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski