Site of former Office Depot, soon to become a new Walmart
  • Site of former Office Depot, soon to become a new Walmart
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As Oceanside gets ready to welcome its fourth Walmart location, community opposition is growing over the chain’s application to sell alcohol. The new store, a smaller “Walmart Neighborhood Market” concept, will be located in the Mission Square Shopping Center, just off I-5 on Mission Avenue. The former Office Depot site is across the street from Oceanside High School.

Some neighborhood activists, already upset about yet another Walmart in their city, say the application for the sale of beer and wine is unacceptable. Community groups such as the North Coastal Prevention Coalition, the Eastside Neighborhood Association, and the Oceanside Coastal Neighborhood Association point out that this area of Oceanside, west of I-5, has an overabundance of stores that sell alcohol.

Causing the current uproar is the required “notice of application” posting for Walmart’s liquor license. Upon application to the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, regulations say business owners are required to post a large yellow sign from the ABC, stating a business’ name and ownership and the type of alcohol sales applied for. The sign also advises how the public may comment on the application.

Unfortunately, the sign has now been removed, having met the 60-day posting requirement, and the ABC says the public-comment period is closed.

Opponents say while the application sign may have been posted in the window, it was not in plain sight. Blocked by construction fencing, the sign could only have been seen by driving through the construction area, to the three small businesses east of Walmart, in the far northeast corner of the shopping center — two mom-and-pop fast-food restaurants and a barber shop. The sign could not have been seen from 12 high-traffic-volume stores, including a 99 Cent Only, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Panda Express, and an El Pollo Loco.

Leading the charge against Walmart is Oceanside native and business owner Ken Leighton (who also writes for the Reader). In his weekly opinion column published in the Coast News, Leighton often laments about the destruction of his hometown and isn’t afraid to name names of who he thinks is responsible. Some say he is the only one speaking out for the older neighborhoods and small businesses of Oceanside.

Leighton says Walmart, the ABC, and the city might have a big lawsuit on their hands if alcohol sales are approved for the new Walmart. Several years ago, the 99 Cent Only store, right next to Walmart, was denied a liquor-sales license due to the proximity of the high school.

The city and the police department say they have no reason to oppose Walmart’s alcohol application. The ABC says they are still studying the issue.

Footnote: Mission Square shopping center holds a piece of Oceanside’s history in that, in 1958, it was the first strip mall built in coastal North County. It started the mass exodus of traditional retailers, and shoppers, from Oceanside’s downtown. Some of the original stores were Thrifty Drug, a Vons grocery store, Elm’s Clothiers, and a chain department store known as W.T. Grant. The longest remaining business in the center is Radio Shack, which opened in 1967.

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Comments

Visduh Nov. 22, 2013 @ 9:06 a.m.

That center, considering its crummy location in one of the city's most gang-infested 'hoods, has had a remarkable amount of tenant turnover, yet seems to stay fairly filled-up. Thrifty Drug and Safeway (now parent of Von's) located in a number of those strip centers that were at freeway access points. The also had pairs of stores along the 78 starting with College Blvd, then Broadway in Vista, Rancho Santa Fe Road, and near the Escondido end of the freeway. W T Grant went bankrupt in the mid-70's due to massive insider fraud, and that location in Oceanside was taken by our local department store, Walker-Scott, when it was expanding around the county and opening smallish stores. That company, in turn, folded about thirty years ago, and I-don't-know-what moved into the space then.

Walmart sees something in Oceanside that may not be apparent to the rest of us. Or maybe Wally's World just isn't that astute. Mission Avenue is a real crime corridor through the city.

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Ken Harrison Nov. 25, 2013 @ 11:42 a.m.

Visduh, you may be the one guy that remembers more than I! The little noticed fact of the VONS/Thrifty development connection was amazing. They also jointly opened on I-5 @ Tamarack (C'bad) and Santa Fe Dr. (Encinitas)

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Visduh Nov. 25, 2013 @ 11:53 a.m.

I'd noted that pairing years ago, but had forgotten about the ones in C'bad and at Santa Fe Drive. It seems that Safeway and Thrifty wanted that combo, or some property developer was offering them both something they could not refuse, all around No County just when the freeways were being built. When they moved to these freeway access points, Safeway left some of their older spots. The one in Encinitas still stands on Hwy 101 (west side) and the one in Vista on So Santa Fe Ave is still in use as a big auto parts store (Carquest?). I'm sure there were others.

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Ken Harrison Nov. 25, 2013 @ 11:43 a.m.

And the W.T. Grant's diner counter was a special night eating out for my mom and I.

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Visduh Nov. 25, 2013 @ 11:58 a.m.

Grant's was similar to Woolworth's in its offerings, except that it seemed to carry a lot of linens, domestics and curtains. In that it was a shade more upscale than the other old "five-and-ten" chains. Those lunch counters could be darned good and very reasonably priced. I can understand why you remember that.

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Ken Harrison Nov. 25, 2013 @ 4:18 p.m.

My sister used to know the manager of the O'side Grants. She shared with me recently that he would get very upset when people called it a 5 & dime. "We are a department store" he would say. Having grown up in Oceanside, I referred to her for the history part of this story. I just remember having to go all the way to the Radio Shack from Cardiff to buy parts for my class electronic projects, so I only remembered Thrifty (for the ice cream) and Radio Shack being there. I remember the Grant's in Vista where we used to eat. The VONS/Trifty combos were totally planed, two major tenants for one shopping center. Both offering different items - VONS - food and Thrifty - pharmacy and household notions - they didn't complete like they do now.

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mwallace1390 Jan. 1, 2014 @ 3:05 p.m.

I hope that place is robbed blind and closes down with in the year. Walmart is a plague on this town's local economy and sells nothing but junk that is bought at pennies on the dollar and marked up 300%. I refuse to supply that chain with a single cent of my hard earned money. Walmart moves in the ghetto because it can compete with the .99 cent store and the 10 dollar mall. The poor and uneducated will always shop where they have to. FYI: The chain places stores in these high risk areas for a tax write off. Loss prevention is designed to establish the dollar amount. The stores in that complex have included real estate shops, subway, and goodwill that were all closed down. The fact that this corporation is allowed to file for a liquor license DIRECTLY across the street from the high school AND the 3 million dollar project to keep the 'homeless' off the business section shows who is really running this town. Corporate sponsors for all congressman that are willing to trample the peoples rights, bonuses for those that completely disregard the rules others have to abide.. seething

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