Business

Thursday, Dec 27 2012 05:52 PM

Last Green Frog Market croaks

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Green Frog Market President Scott Hair gets a pat from loyal customer Robert Albright after Albright learned the market at Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive is closing down. Like many of Green Frog's customers, Albright will miss not having the store.

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  2. 2 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Green Frog Market President Scott Hair speaks about the history of the store on Alta Vista Drive and Bernard Street where the names of people who worked at the store are literally written on the walls in the back rooms. Hair started working at Green Frog in 1978.

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  3. 3 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Green Frog Market President Scott Hair announced Thursday the market located at the corner of Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive will be closing its doors.

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  4. 4 of 4

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Green Frog Market, located at the corner of Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive, will be closing its doors.

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BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

People who live in the La Cresta and Alta Vista neighborhoods affectionately refer to it as "The Frog."

When giving directions to visitors unfamiliar with the area, neighborhood residents sometimes say, "We're over by the Green Frog Market."

But no more.

Bakersfield's oldest supermarket, an east Bakersfield landmark for nearly 67 years, is closing its doors Jan. 13. But Scott Hair, the president of Green Frog on Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive, said the iconic grocery store will open again in a new location.

"The property changed hands and our lease is expiring Jan. 31," Hair said. "Dollar General is going to be moving in here."

Dollar General, a variety store chain based in Tennessee, already has three locations in Bakersfield, according to the company's website. A spokesman for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.

"We're putting this out to people in the community out of a deep sense of gratitude for their loyalty, their patronage, their friendship," Hair said. "It's just been an amazing thing."

Retired California Highway Patrol officer Robert Albright, 84, lives just a short walk from the store. He views the loss of The Frog as a loss to the entire neighborhood.

"This is home," he said, then added with a wink to Hair, "even in spite of the management."

But then he got serious again.

"For the locals in the neighborhood, this is the end of an era," he said. "A piece of history is going."

A second and larger Green Frog at Columbus and Oswell streets closed its doors in November 2011, but the original location endured, spruced up by a $1 million renovation completed in early 2010.

Hair said the family-owned company has been on the lookout for a new location for close to eight months. They have a good idea of where they're going, but Hair wasn't willing to go into details Thursday.

This month, the store has chalked up its second-best Christmas season in 30 years, Hair said.

"We know our program is working," he added. "You vote with your dollars in this business."

If longtime customer Julian Moralez had a say, he would vote for the store to stay where it is.

"I think it's sad," Moralez said of the closure. "This is a loss to the neighborhood and a loss to the city."

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