99 Cent Store A Welcome Addition To Needles

(August 28)  NEEDLES—The May departure of Bashas’, Needles last remaining grocery store, has been counterbalanced by the arrival of a 99 Cents Only Store in the county’s easternmost city.
Needles held a “soft opening” for the store on August 21, a harbinger of the grand opening set for Thursday September 11.
The new store is filling the actual vacancy left when Basha’s closed, filling the gap in the Needles Towne Center, at1010 East Broadway, near the confluence of  East Broadway and Interstate 40. The regular hours, once officially open, will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The store is to feature a wide variety of food products, most for 99 cents or less. It will offer some grocery items at higher prices, such as milk and eggs.
Needles, the county’s smallest city population-wise at 4,700 residents, is in an unmistakable financial decline. Bashas’ Grocery Store employed 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.
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 the town’s only grocery store just before the onset of the summer tourist season further eroded Needles’ overall economy as fishermen, boaters and other river enthusiasts elected in some cases to camp or stay on the Arizona shore, nearer to existing and surviving retail establishments there.
Last year, city manager Rick Daniels prevailed upon the city council to hire economic development consultant Michael Bracken in an effort to find ways to jumpstart the local economy.
One ploy that did not pay off was allowing marijuana clinics to proliferate. Just when those establishments seemed to be gaining traction, they were raided by law enforcement authorities and many shut down.

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