This is Jay. Until very recently, he was the owner and sole shopkeeper of Oxcy Mart, a mini-mart/liquor store on Armadale and York Boulevard. Occidental College, in an effort to expand it’s presence on the constantly changing and gentrifying York Boulevard, acquired the building and all of it’s storefronts at 4750 York Blvd., putting Jay, the tenant, out of a job. Legally speaking, the transaction occured between the college and the property owner, making Jay a powerless middleman who had no choice but to vacate the property. This, of course, puts Jay out of a job.
We attempted to interview Jay about the process by which his store was acquired by the college. He informed us that many occidental students had already questioned the college administration on the purchase, and had brought up a desire to have some kind of opposing action to try and help Jay in the process, or maybe stop the purchase altogether. Now, my assumption here is that the administration, in retaliation, has told Jay that if he permits, facilitates, or is aware of any sort of action or discussion against Occidental College or the property owners, legal action would be taken against him. I assume so because Jay, very promptly and nervously, refused to be officially interviewed.
All that we could extract from our conversation with Jay was this portrait of him and a gradually emptying rack of shelves behind him. Most of the shelves in the store are also empty, and Jay spends most of his last evenings at the store sitting at the corner of Armadale and York, waiting to leave. His immediate plans are to figure out a way to move his wife and child into a new rented apartment, and possibly join another liquor store business in Orange County.
This post does not intend to initiate a protest or any kind of action against Occidental College or the store-owner(s) at 4750 York Blvd. Rather, all this portrait and write-up intends to do is to make college students, the college and residents of North East LA familiarize themselves with not just the disappearing businesses, but also the disappearing faces from the neighborhood, as more and more property is bought over, and local/poorer shopowners are displaced and left without work in the process.