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West Oakland's Only Full-Service Grocery Store Shuttering Doors; Neighbors Heartbroken

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- The only full-service grocery store in West Oakland is shutting down leaving many loyal customers shocked and forced to go miles to stock their shelves and refrigerators.

For years, Community Foods Market on San Pablo Avenue served the community. Now its doors will close for good on Sunday.

"I'm just sad, I'm just sad," said loyal customer Lynnette Robinson. "I'm heartbroken actually. It's truly a hard, sad Friday in Oakland today. It really is. This is a big loss."

Some neighbors like Robinson shop at Community Foods weekly. They said they rely on the market.

"Devastating, it hurts me now," said customer Lloyd Canamore, who lives a few blocks away from the market. "Terrible, terrible. It hurts me bad. My car broke. I can walk here. Now it's going to be gone."

Many of the 25 workers also live in the community.

But Community Foods CEO Brahm Ahmadi said he simply has run out of money and options.

"Losing what has been my baby, it's tough," he told KPIX. "It's really hard emotionally. I'm exhausted. I'm not sleeping great. I'm stressed out."

Many people called West Oakland a food desert because for 40 years, it did not have a full-service grocery store. Ahmadi opened it in 2019, eight months before the pandemic.

"We never had sufficient financial resources to operate properly, especially to have the reserves to give us the resilience to ride through any kind of economic challenges," Ahmadi said.

He said a 30 percent drop in business during the pandemic, add on inflation, labor and supply shortages, they just can't make it.

"People saw this store as a potential catalyst to really start to signal community development and change along this corridor, start attracting other investments, other businesses," Ahmadi said.

Many corporations avoided West Oakland for years, historically a predominately Black and low-income neighborhood. Neighbors worried the closure will push other community investments away.

"Before, I thought other businesses would start opening and we could be great again. But I don't know. I don't know," Robinson said.

Ahmadi said the bank will soon take over the property. Everything in the store is 50 percent off until the last day, February 13th.

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