posted by Michelle Klein-Hass @ 2:48 PM
Saturday, January 24, 2004
The sounds of silence...Panorama City style.
We went out to grocery shop today and we found that one of our local indie supermarkets, El Mexicano, is shutting down. Very, very depressing. This fucking supermarket strike means that we are extremely dependent on stores like the one that is going under.
There was no fresh fruits and veggies, the meat case was long ago cleaned out, and the place had a very "picked over" look to it. The store was running a 50% off sale on everything remaining, so we took advantage of it for canned goods and other staples. Like salsa. And hot sauce. Here, those are necessities of life.
It seems like there's been a wave of failures of businesses out my way since the December Shopping Season ended. KayBee Toys is on its way out now...the whole chain. Asahiya Bookstore in Little Tokyo is shuttering, as are other stores in the chain. The Asahiya in Gardena will stay open, but other than that one it looks like the rest of the stores are going bye-bye. Plaza del Valle, an attempt to replicate a Mexican/Central American style plaza market in what was once part of the parking lot of a decrepit shopping center here, is failing miserably. The small-scale businesses that were supposed to occupy the Plaza can't afford the rent that the company that runs the place is charging.
It looked, for a time, that Panorama City was going to revive itself. Oddly enough, when WalMart took over the old Broadway department store in the Panorama Mall there was a lot of motion towards opening more stores up here and sprucing up the neighborhood. But now, more and more, things are dying here. The Wherehouse at Van Nuys and Roscoe liquidated and moved out, as did a few stores right next door to them. The building formerly owned by Union Bank and then the County of Los Angeles is 100% vacant. The old Montgomery Ward store next to the Mall has been shuttered for years now...well, since Montgomery Ward went the way of White Front, Zody's and Nahas. (god I'm showing my age by listing those...) There was a SavOn Drugs on Chase at Van Nuys right next to a still-thriving Pep Boys a few years ago but that has been vacant even longer than Monkey Ward. And there is still a condemned high-rise, red-tagged since the Northridge Quake ten years ago, that is home only to ghosts and pigeons and maybe a homeless person or two. I think it remains up only because it's the high ground in our neighborhood and there is cell phone stuff up the wazoo on the roof.
It's all so damn depressing. But it's par for the course when you consider how the economy has been sputtering. Despite news reports and assurances by economists, the guy on the street can't see a recovery unless there's people getting jobs and stores opening for business, not closing up.