Handy Market has been a Magnolia Avenue staple for 33 years. Although
independent markets like his continue to disappear, owner Alan
Arzoian said his store is experiencing a shot in the arm because of
the ongoing supermarket strike.
The work stoppage has given his store a chance to win over
large-chain shoppers, Arzoian said.
“The first week of the strike was really wild,” he said this week.
“We saw an increase of 50% to 60% in daily volume. We could not
handle all the extra shoppers.”
Built in the 1940s, the store has cramped aisles and a back
storage area where employees need to maneuver stacks of boxes filled
with produce into tight spots.
“Our back room wasn’t designed to handle this kind of volume,”
Sales at the store are running 20% more than usual during the
holiday season because of the strike, he said.
Ronald Gonzales had not been inside Handy for 10 years, but on Friday, he spent almost $100 on a cart full of groceries.
“I don’t want to cross a picket line,” Gonzales said.
Besides attracting extra customers to Handy Market, the strike
also has drawn hundreds of supermarket employees seeking part-time
jobs to augment their strike wages. Arzoian gave a “conservative
estimate” that more than 100 striking workers from Vons, Albertsons
and Ralphs have asked him for a job. He has hired six.
Vons employee Sandy Chambers said she landed a job at Handy two
weeks after the strike began to augment the $40 a day she receives
from a strike fund.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, which represents the
grocery clerks, started a work stoppage Oct. 11, with 21,000 workers
striking mainly against Vons. In response, Ralphs and Albertsons
locked out 49,000 of their workers.
Rising health-care costs are at the heart of the dispute, with the
union opposing efforts by the three chains to have their workers pay
more for the rising costs of health care.
Federally mediated talks resumed Friday and are expected to
“I have to make a living. This strike is going on too long. I have
rent, car payments and other bills,” Chambers said.