By Cathie Anderson
The Sacramento Bee
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Despite the naysayers, one California couple continues to EXPAND their store which sells African imports. Their company sells everything from African dashikis to handbags, soaps even jewelry.
The Sacramento Bee
People told Calvin and Linet Winbush that their store selling African imports wouldn’t last long when they opened it five years ago. But since then, they have expanded LiBush International Connections Africa in Old Sacramento to four times the space they originally leased.
“Our product is unique and authentic, and it’s all handmade,” Linet told me. “No two items are alike. The other thing is … we don’t have too many African stores in Sacramento. A lot of people who come here have traveled to Africa, and they come and see things that they didn’t have room to bring back.”
Linet was born and reared in Kenya’s Vihiga district, not far from Lake Victoria. She came to the United States in 1989 for college and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix. But she arrived in the United States with little more than $25 in her pocket, she said, and she went to a Sears store looking for work.
After an interview, she said, a manager there told her that she was going to hire her because she was so green that she felt she could mold her into the model employee. Linet went on to become a manager for the retail store, but as Sears struggled financially in 2008, she found herself at a crossroads in her career. She started selling handmade African wares at craft shows, she said, but she had always wanted to open a brick-and-mortar store where she could sell the goods.
She talked with her husband, Calvin, and together they decided to test the market in 2011 with a tiny store, roughly 600 square feet, on Front Street in Old Sacramento. They did so well in their first year, Calvin said, that another landlord invited them to move into a larger space in his building in the historic district. They took double the space in 2012, and then when a neighboring tenant moved out in 2014, they took that space as well and expanded their inventory into 2,422 square feet.