Needles, SBC’s Smallest City, To See Its Only Grocery Store Close Next Month

(April 2) NEEDLES—In an unmistakable signal of the further deterioration of the economy in San Bernardino County’s smallest city, Bashas’ Grocery Store will close on May 9.
The only supermarket in 4,700 population Needles, Bashas’ employs 43 full and part time workers.
For several years, the city had provided a subsidy to Bashas’ to keep it from leaving. That subsidy, which consisted of payments of $150,000 annually in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 and $200,000 in 2012-13 and 2013-14, was set to expire in June.
Another factor driving the closure was the expiration of the Bashas’ lease with Reliable Properties. There appears to be no immediate prospect that the property, located at 1010 East Broadway, will be occupied by another tenant.
City officials, including city manager Rick Daniels and the economic development consultant Daniels had prevailed upon the city council to hire last year, Michael Bracken, had been dialoguing with both Reliable Properties and Bashas’ owner, Eddie Basha III. Those talks did not bear fruit, however.
Needles, located in the far northeast end of San Bernardino County and just across the Colorado River from Arizona, for years has been at a disadvantage in terms of sales tax revenue based upon not only its limited population and the lack of surrounding population but higher California sales taxes and gasoline tax as compared to those levied in Arizona or the slightly more distant state of Nevada. Residents routinely cross the river to purchase gasoline in Arizona, at a cost savings of as much as thirty cents a gallon. The price disadvantage on other consumer goods in California, while less pronounced than on gasoline, nevertheless has translated into sluggish sales west of the Colorado River.
The closure of Bashas’ is seen as a particularly hard and bitter blow to Daniels, who was hired by the city council last year on the perceived strength of his ability to rejuvenate the local economy.
The closure of the grocery store just two months before the onset of the summer tourist season could further erode Needles’ overall economy as fishermen, boaters and other river enthusiasts are now likely to camp or stay on the Arizona shore, nearer to existing and surviving retail establishments there.

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