The [former] Fresh & Easy store
When the Fresh & Easy grocery store on the corner of Cañon Street and Catalina Boulevard closed just before the holidays, the desirable storefront attracted the attention of other corporate retailers looking to expand into the upscale, blufftop section of Point Loma.
Next door to the shell of the bankrupt chain store, Michael Saad runs his Point Loma-Cabrillo Drug store, an independent pharmacy that also sell notions — greeting cards, gifts, and health supplies.
In the debacle of the Haggen Foods and Fresh & Easy closures, other chains are looking to grab prime real estate. While most closed San Diego County locations are being negotiated through the bankruptcy court with retailers Smart and Final, Gelson’s Markets, and even Albertson’s buying back some of their sold-off sites, in Point Loma, CVS Pharmacy is looking to expand.
The leasing agent for the small shopping center, Bill Thaxton of Flocke and Avoyer Commercial Realtors, told the Reader, “We received interest from several high-quality retailers. The landlord would prefer a grocery store, not a pharmacy.” Thaxton added that the landlord has formally filed an objection to CVS’ bid in the bankruptcy case being heard in a Delaware court.
As reported in the Peninsula Beacon, locals have started an online petition on change.org.
As of today, the petition has attracted 2,603 supporters. Signers are attempting to sway CVS from opening their fourth location in the Point Loma/Ocean Beach area, with comments such as, “The community needs is a grocery store,” or “Neighbors will boycott this CVS.”
“What can I do?” Saad questions. Unlike the old days of commercial leases in small shopping centers, Saad does not have an exclusivity clause in his lease; meaning no competing businesses in the same center. “I have a few things in there [the lease] that I’m working on. It’s complicated,” he said.
It’s really in the bankruptcy court’s hands, concurred Saad and Thaxton.
In the meantime Saad said he could only continue what he’s been doing for years, giving good customer service. While interviewing him at his other pharmacy location, Point Loma-Shelter Island Drug in the bayfront business district of Point Loma, Saad greeted several customers by their first name.
Being affiliated as a Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a pool of independent pharmacies across the country, Saad says he can compete with the chain drug stores in prescription pricing and insurance billing. But when it comes to being next door to one of the largest drug retailers, the results to his business will be obvious.