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Over the past five months, Beverly Shields has been one busy woman, taking her tasty sausages to three different events in South L.A.
From the Inglewood Market-place to last month’s historic Taste of Soul and last week’s Fresh Oil Conference at the City of Refuge Church, Shields has definitely done her part to gain new customers and re-establish her family business in the community.
She is in charge of the Harris Grocery Market, which has stood on the corner of Juniper and 107th Street for the past 39 years. The store is famous for its sausages, which have attracted customers locally and nationally.
In July 2005, the store burned down due to an electrical fire and the family had to start from scratch to rebuild it. When it re-opened this past May, her loyal customers have slowly come back to snatch up their favorite meats.
Her parents, Helen and Lee Van Harris, first opened the market when she was in fifth grade. Even at an early age, she was inspired by how they carried themselves and ran the business.
“I just admired them opening their own business and it made me want to have my own too because I saw what they did,” Shields said.
And after her father passed away ten years ago, she assumed control and now her daughter Daisha is helping to take care of the store. In fact, Daisha has been the de facto public relations chief because she has told her mother about the various events.
When asked what’s so special about the sausages, Daisha said it’s because “you don’t have to add any extra flavor to them and they’re very versatile. You can make links, patties, tacos or enchiladas with it.”
With all the talk about how good they were, this reporter had to taste it for myself and after one bite, you’ll appreciate right away the rich flavor that makes every bite a mouth-watering experience.
Both mother and daughter said that the sausages are made from a secret family recipe handed down from Shields’ grandmother.
In addition to local customers, the market ships their product out to customers in states such as Oregon, New Jersey and Georgia. They also supply to several local restaurants, including M’Dears Desserts on 78th and Western, which was named the No. 1 breakfast place in Los Angeles due in part to Harris’ sausages.
In Shields’ mind, she is excited about continuing the legacy of her parents and anticipates taking it to another level, which would be putting the sausages in national supermarket chains.
As she looks into that process, she remains content and pleased that she has rediscovered her purpose doing what she loves.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Shields said.