By Allan Tellis
DENVER (CBS4) – Ron Simmons is planning on stepping down from his role at the Akente Express on Park Avenue after the store has spent 30 years under his stewardship.
Now he has some parting wisdom for his successor.
“Don’t change anything… Continue to spoil the clientele that came in here spoiled from the beginning. And you’ll be just fine,” said Simmons.
During his time at the pan-African bodega, Simmons turned his shop into more than just a retail outlet — it became a community hub, an ode to Afrocentrism in Denver. Even during high-traffic business hours, one can catch Simmons moving chess pieces and chatting with regulars while completing transactions.
“Oh, we have a lot of fun with that. Playing chess is like living. It’s part of life,” said Simmons describing the daily affair.
During his time at the store, Simmons was able to source some of the finest and most eccentric African goods in the Rocky-Mountain region. Some of the pieces were purely aesthetic, but many of them served as functional options for consumers.
“It’s become a lifestyle. Certain things. Like take these fans for instance. We pick them up out of Ghana. The church community has gravitated toward those because it’s a functional piece,” said Springer.
The new owner, Ron Haynes, plans on keeping the Akente Express going at full steam, utilizing the same framework Simmons has created. Haynes has only one change in mind.
“Only one thing we’re going to try to increase… we want to do more book clubs for adults and children.”
Akente Express is located at 919 Park Avenue West. Visit the website akenteexpressdenver.com for more information.