COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After nearly two decades of serving their community, a Somali grocery store on the west side of Columbus is having to close up shop.
The owners of the store said they’ve been a staple within this neighborhood for 17 years now and many of the immigrant families who live in that area said they’ve come to depend on them.
“It’s just heartbreaking, that’s the only way I can put it,” said Hamze Ahmed, son of the store’s owner.
For 17 years, Hamze watched his father Abdisalan work to serve the people of Columbus with his grocery store in Lincoln Park, a community filled with Somali immigrants who’ve come to rely on the Ahmeds when it comes to reading and understanding English.
“He helped them get their phones down, he helped them send their money orders, pay their rents, and this is not only going to be a problem to the Somali American Chamber of Commerce; it’s going to be a big problem for the community because this was a hub they were using,” said Shafi Shafat, president of the Somali American Chamber of Commerce.
Shafat said he was shocked to hear that the store was closing after litigation issues with the property’s landlord caused the family to close the store. Shafat added that the pain of this loss will be felt by many others in this area
“It’s so unfortunate, I cannot say my sorrows,” said customer Abdi Hussin. “I’m very sad about this. I wish this shop could be here. It was a means of a help to us, and I really don’t know how I can express that, but it’s a very sad moment for me.”
As for what comes next, Hamze Ahmed says he’s not sure, only that he hopes those in this community are able to find another place that can serve them.
“So now as a family, and you know, as a small community that we’ve developed here, we want to do whatever we can to figure out what we have to do next,” he said.
Whether that’s retirement or a new business, Hamze Ahmed said his father is still weighing his options. However, he said this will be their last week staying open in the Lincoln Park community.