The following editorial is from reader Clive Leeman. Personally, I have always found most (yes, most) of Starr’s employees to be apparently unhappy in their jobs, and don’t see how this in any way, shape or form “destroys the middle class.” But there you go. -Tyler
The Shattering of a Community
by Clive Leeman
A few weeks ago, I walked for the first time into the shattered community in the center of Ojai that had been Starr Market. The physical structure has not changed much, but many Starr workers have disappeared. The faces and voices of those beautiful women and men who worked so closely together for many years provisioning Ojai have just been wiped out.
I was told by several Starr employees a few days before Starr Market closed that their new employer would be retaining them all. In fact, on April 29, the Ojai Valley News reported that “current Starr Market employees will be kept on under the new management.”
Now, in a flash, the familiar faces are gone except for a few. The old community has been annihilated.
Starr Market began as Bayless Market on the corner of La Canada and Ojai Avenue in the 1950′s. My wife remembers going with her girlfriends to the Bayless Soda Fountain in the fifties. I started shopping at the Bayless Market from the sixties on, continuing after Bayless moved across the road (Ojai Avenue) to the big parking lot where Starr Market has been located since Bayless was bought by the Starr Family.
We will never forget how the personnel remained the same following that move and how the same faces and voices were there after Bayless became Starr Market. It had evolved into a genuine community.
The Ojai Valley News once wrote about Starr Market:
“An Ojai institution such as this has been a huge part of this community for so many years and it deserves to be remembered.”
As a low income resident of Ojai, I do not begrudge the hiring of low income workers by the new owners, “but I do want to know why the new owners put out the word that they would keep on the Starr employees and then did the opposite.”
“If you still have doubts that the middle class is being destroyed in this country, just look at what happened to Starr Market.”