Authentic African Goods & Products
Family Owned & Operated For 30 Years
A Brief History
Akente Express: How It All Started
In 1991, Harlem-native Ron Springer started Akente Express with just $800. On a trip home to New York he purchased some fabric, jewelry, incense oils, and other cute stuff. He then returned to Colorado and sold out all of his items within a couple of weeks. The next trip back he spent $3,200 and as they say—the rest is history.
Over the next several months, Ron cultivated relationships with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the Denver Center Theatre Company, school systems, and cultural events such as Juneteenth, the Black Arts Festival, and the Black Ski Summit. By November 1991—he moved into the 919 Park Ave W shop that Akente Express still occupies to this day!
The first six years flew by and helped solidify Akente Express's position as the largest supplier of authentic Afro-centric products in the Rocky Mountain region. After that, business slowed down a bit and competition rose. But as an entrepreneur accustomed to the necessity of change, Ron didn't miss a beat. When mainstream stores (Pier 1, Sears, JCPenneys, etc.) and start-up businesses moved to Denver to capitalize on cultural goods—Ron switched his game, using his sources and suppliers to focus on high-quality personal hair and skin care products such as Shea Butters, Emu Oil, Hatian Black Castor Oil, and more. Since then he's even started his own Akente Express signature line with trademarked products like their 100% organic Whip Ash™ and Ultimate Hair Food™.
Today, Akente Express is still owned and operated by Ron Springer and his sons. Whats next? Ron is looking forward to passing along the day-to-day store operations as he transitions to part-time retirement and focuses more on sourcing, supply chain, and spending more time on the relationships he's grown over the past 30 years.
The most important thing though, he says, is keeping with the original tradition and community-focus he started Akente Express with.
"It's part of Denver's cultural story and I think a lot of people see it as a beacon for the black community here. Making sure it stays in good hands and continues to support our customers is most important, in my mind," he says.
"I've been blessed to do this." - Ron Springer
Come Visit Us
Near Downtown Denver Off Park Ave. W
We're centrally located off Park Avenue West in Denver, Colorado.
Our online inventory is sometimes limited—but for all of the latest products and options, stop by and see us next time you're in town!