End of an Era in Poway

It's moving day for three local business forced out to make way for new Walgreens

A new Walgreens is coming to Poway, but that means several locally owned businesses have to find a new place to set up shop.

Several businesses located in Poway for almost three decades are being forced to pack up and leave. It's all to make way for a new 13,500-square-foot Walgreens, complete with a drive-through pharmacy.

For the businesses, long a staple of the local community, it's been a bittersweet time. Marty McClung has owned Western Mower and Engine since 1983. The lawnmower sales and repair shop has been on the corner of Poway and Community Roads since 1977. Also being forced out is the Sofspra self-serve car wash and the Poway Smog Station. The Golden State independent gas station also on the property had it's lease bought out six months ago.

"Very bittersweet -- It's kind of weird to be leaving there," McClung said. "I've spent more time there than any place in my life. I started there in high school, so it's pretty tough."

But he's lucky in comparison to some of the other businesses' owners. He's found a new place to relocate his business, several miles away on Pomerado Road. McClung said community support has been overwhelming. In fact, many of his customers have volunteered their time to help him move his business to its new location.

Anny Ashbrook, who owns the Sofspra, could not find a new location.

"It's kind of tough, because we don't have another place to go, another place for our car wash to start up," Ashbrook said. "So it's kind of a different chapter in our lives."

As Ashbrook spoke about her business, she pointed to the old Sofspra sign located on the property. The president of the Poway Historical Society said it was the tallest free-standing sign of its kind in the city of Poway.

"It's definitely 30 years old; its an old one," said Ashbrook. "It might be an eyesore for some, but it's part of history for Poway. And to think a big Walgreens is coming in from back east. It's probably pretty difficult for people around here."

At least one car-wash customer agreed.

"I'm pretty upset about it," said Christine Franchino as she prepared to wash her car. "I come here once every two weeks, and it's about $10 cheaper than going anywhere else."

The Poway City Council unanimously approved the Walgreens in December 2008. There was little opposition to the plan, according to a planning department spokesman.

Demolition permits have been approved, and if all goes as planned, the new Walgreens should be open within a year.

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