DOWNEY - Citing a sluggish economy and a competitive business market, two more Downey businesses, Beach's Market and Alin's Party Depot, have lapsed, as an intransigent recession continues to cripple local restaurants, supermarkets and retail centers.Established in the early 1950s as one of Downey's first supermarkets, Beach's Market supplied local residents with meat, fresh produce and dairy decades before major markets came into the city. But after years of dismal profit margins and high operation costs, store manager and owner Ron Beach announced this week that the 50-year-old grocery store, located at 7900 Imperial Hwy, will finally close its doors, unable to withstand both changing demographics and a weak economy. "Yeah - we're closing," said Beach with a sigh. "It's sad, but it is what it is. The word is everybody's hurting, people are down. I'm not sure exactly when, but we'll probably close before Thanksgiving." Beach also cited the city's four month-long construction project, which facilitated the placement of several medians near the market's entrances on both Imperial Highway and Paramount Boulevard. "That killed us - it was the final straw," said Beach sharply. "But people can still do their shopping. We're going to start pulling stuff off - we'll mark it down until we blow it all out." Beach believes the aging supermarket, started by his grandfather, Max, as Downey Farm and Home Center, suffered from a recent change in business. "Everything's changing," he said. "Shopping patterns are changing. Consumers are buying stuff at different outlets now. Today, we have the Targets, Wal-Marts, Costcos, and Sam's Clubs…there is a tremendous amount of food being bought in those stores." According to Beach, approximately 20 employees will lose their jobs, though a few will be relocated to the company's Rosemead store, which remains open. Despite the Downey closure, the Beach family will continue to own the 4.1-acre lot on the southwest corner of Imperial Highway and Paramount Boulevard. Pepe's Tacos, Crown Cleaners & Laundry and Streit German Bakery will remain on the property and will continue leasing space from the company. Beach hopes to lease the facility in the future, but acknowledges that it may be a difficult task. "We'll lease it to whoever's interested," said Beach. "We've had some interest so far, but nothing has been worked out yet." Beginning in the early 2000s, Beach's Market moved into a new industry altogether, playing host to several corporations and production companies who used the traditional market for a variety of commercials and films. However, just a few blocks north, Alin's Party Depot, a Downey staple since 1985, is also preparing to close, unable to renew a lease with real estate owners Westminster Properties. Andy Richmond, finance executive for the Downey location, says the nearly 30-year-old company is undergoing several reductions as a result of many factors. Last week, the company's website advertised six locations, today, just two. "We're closing down a few stores, all for different reasons," said Richmond. "At our Downey location, the lease will be ending in a few months. The landlord sold the property so we don't have a lease going forward there…the liquidation will run until sometime in January." While Richmond acknowledged harsh economic realities, he also encouraged residents to support the remaining Alin's locations in Riverside and Lakewood. "We're still open in Lakewood - not that far away," he said. "Going forward, we'd be happy to serve them at our Lakewood location." According to a representative of Westminster Properties, the building was recently sold to a large, recognizable business, but ownership information for the property, located at 12270 Paramount Blvd., has not been updated by the County Assessor's office. Ron Beach, who serves as vice-president of the family company, believes his store's closure is simply a sign of the times. "It's just a bad economy," he said. "Even chains aren't opening new stores these days…the Hispanic operators are doing well, but their sales are weak. There's been a change in demographics, a change in business - it's just a lot different than it used to be."
********** Published: November 18, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 31