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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Highland Park market asks for community support as landlord looks for new tenant

Over  the past year the owners of Figueroa Produce negotiated a lower rent as they struggled to keep the independent store open . But the owner of the York Boulevard shopping center wants a tenant that can pay more and  has put  the 10,000-square-foot space that includes Figueroa Produce and the neighboring Fashion Avenue up for lease. The new asking rate is too pricey for Figueroa Produce owners Ruben Perez and Luis Quismorio, who rent the space on a month-to-month basis.

“We need help to bring the store back to full capacity,” said Quismorio in an email. “We need our community to come and purchase what they can from Figueroa Produce.”

The 6,000-square foot market opened about five years ago in a former Thrifty drug store with a focus on wholesome food that would not bust your budget. The store also hosted a Tuesday night food truck gathering in the adjacent parking lot that became a popular neighborhood event. But soon after Figueroa Produce opened the economy tanked and Perez and Quismorio found themselves struggling with high rent and rising food costs.

The partners did manage to negotiate a lower rate on a month-to-month basis but the landlord is now seeking a tenant that can pay more. “He is putting the feelers out to see if he can get what he wants. which is $2.50 a square-foot.   which is a premium rate,” Quismorio said. The listing broker said “that the landlord was looking for a big corporation to come in, NOT a local independent.”

Quismorio is making an appeal to local residents to shop at the store.

“We are hoping for the best and are going to continue to stock healthy foods for our community but we need help.”



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27 comments

  1. $2.50 a sqf for that location is insane. My work location in prime Pasadena is paying lower than that! I will try to help them any way I can.

    • Right? $2.50 a sq. ft!?
      Have the owners paid attention to the riff raff in that parking lot? Seriously… what are they thinking? Whole Foods maybe? Paaaaleeez.
      Is it possible to start a campaign with the owners?

      • might losing Sun’s and now this.
        really, ppl jack the rent up, force Co to close, and u know what ? Many place
        are empty, and never rented out. It’s better to keep someone who is paying, even if you are not getting the max $ you want, then to have an empty space,
        for yrs.

    • AND, the landlord’s property taxes are locked in, his cost’s aren’t even going up. This is about nothing but gouging coming and going. But it also is what is happening to ALL the community businesses, all being run out by high rents that only a bunch of high priced restaurants and night clubs and high-end shops can pay.

      If you want to applaud gentrification and want your housing prices rising, this is what you are asking for. All these hard working local people will just be bulldozed over and run out of town.

  2. This reminds me it’s been too long since I visited! Between Nature Mart’s homophobia and Whole Foods’ expense and libertarian idiocy, this is best place to shop for specialty foods.

  3. As much as I love the place, and I was an early supporter from the day they opened, it’s been feeling dingy in there recently. The last place I want to feel dingy is the place where I buy my food. I’ve been shopping at Fresco Market which is also a locally owned independent community minded market. It’s very clean inside.

  4. How can a place like OK Chinese food and the water store stay afloat in the same shopping center is what I want to know?? I really hope Fig Produce can stay in business. I’ll be shopping there as much as I can from now on!

  5. Maybe we hit the landlord with a ton of emails. Would he care?

  6. I recall that the landlord wasn’t a fan of the food truck night as well. Maybe thats part of it?

  7. i recently got pushed out of my space in echo park – he also wanted 2.50 a sf… i move to better spot in downtown on the 1st. my old space is still for rent…

  8. We’ve loved what this store has to offer. An alternative to Whole Foods, Fresh & Easy and TJ’s. They have a great meat dept, good selection of specialty items (gluten free, organic, and local) The one thing i have to say is that it seems at both this store and their Organix store, the employees are very distracted, or just dont seem to really want to get out and be helpful. Seems like we’re bothering them. Thought it was just me, but then my girlfriend mentioned the same thing to me. Dont know if it’s rudeness, or just a lack of a little cust svc…

    • I’ve noticed the same thing. These stores are small enough that customer service can be a priority but it’s not. I went to Organix the other day and waited 5min before the employees could help me out- they weren’t busy either, just chatting with each other. I did not appreciate their shouting over my head or hearing the f-word multiple times. You’d think they would try to make it a family friendly store. I will definitely not be taking my kids with me when/if I go again.

      As for Figueroa Produce, I just wish it felt a little cleaner in there.

    • Organix is wonderful!

      I go to Organix all the time and have always found the staff there to be exemplarily awesome and friendly.

      They have always been very supportive, always full of good information, answering questions, and care what I want in the store. For example, the last time I was there I asked if they had bulk bin barley and the guy asked what kind I wanted…they had multiple kinds including sprouted barley.

      I have NEVER found them to be rude. Not only that, but they have been super friendly and pleasant with my daughter. I take her, and her friends, aged 7, there all the time and have never ever heard a foul word from any of them.

      • I love Figueroa Produce!! I’m shocked to see the comments about non-friendly service. I have to say, I have never been to a store where they care more about their customers and the community, for that matter. They have made significant food donations over the years to our community walks for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, donated silent auction gourmet food basket for my foundation to conduct cardiac screenings in the community and let me host a food drive for the AIDS Service Center at their store last year. You would never get that with a chain store – These guys not only truly care about their customers, but the well being of their community. I’ll do everything I can to help them!! Who’s with me?

  9. I love Figueroa Produce. We should stage a concert to help them out.

  10. How much is the space by Walgreen’s on Sunset and Logan in Echo Park? The one that we wanted to be a Trader Joes or Fresh and Easy? That would be a perfect spot if they can not re-negotiate their lease!

  11. I appreciate their concept, and what they bring to the neighborhood, but let’s face it. The produce is awful. I tried and tried, but I gave up on it and instead go to Fresco, where unlike Fig Pro, they really have their act together.

  12. I tried this store, but after receiving horrible customer service from the owner I decided never to return. The altercation with the owner occurred in front of other shoppers who sided with me. They put down their shopping items and walked out vowing never to return.

  13. Property owners/landlords are not non profit community development organizations.
    They will go for the best rent that the market will bear. Nothing wrong with that. Perhaps the Fig Pro guys are not very good business owners. Ever think of that?

  14. I wanted to like this place but never really felt welcome, despite several attempts. I think maybe I was wearing the wrong brand of sunglasses. If the produce had really been superior I might feel differently, but it wasn’t. Now for produce I go to Super King, which has great selection and prices. Plus I get an obstacle-course workout at no extra charge.

  15. Lets be honest people, that corner needs help. Best thing that could happen is for a complete tear down and redevelopment, hopefully with local biz

  16. How about the space where the proposed 7-11 is to be built on York Boulevard and Tonawanda Avenue?

    I see the SHIMS on San Fernando Blvd & Fletcher is for lease.

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