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March 20, 2020 VIRAL BUSINESS

When no one can predict what’s in store

PHOTO | New Haven BIZ The Marketa’s Wahid: ‘We have to do it.’

On Friday afternoon Rizan Wahid tried to put the first full week of the coronavirus shutdown in perspective.

“Business is down about 70 percent,” said the proprietor of the Marketa, a convenience store/market/deli at 180 Temple Street, just steps from the New Haven Green.

The Marketa has been on Temple Street since 1995, when even the “prime” block between Chapel and Crown streets featured more shuttered storefronts than shops open for business. Wahid purchased the store in 2014, when the block had become a vibrant center-city economic engine again with upscale neighbors such as Temple Grille and a Ben & Jerry’s store across the street. 

And even though by week’s end few other downtown stores remained open to buy candy or cigarettes or cold cuts or Diet Coke, sidewalk traffic was almost non-existent — on one of downtown’s busiest pedestrian blocks.

“The problem is that people don’t want to come out. I think about the danger to me and my family and the people who work with me [the store has three employees] from being exposed — I want it to be safe for everybody.”

Wahid said he’s trying to strike a balance between remaining open and taking care of his customers with the personal safety of himself, his family and his employees.

“I tell them if we have to close [the store] for two weeks or three weeks — it doesn’t matter,” Wahid said. “We have to do it.”

Wahid said he has no idea when things will get better. ”Maybe by the summertime, the virus will be destroyed by the heat,” he surmised. 

“We’re all in it together,” he said.

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