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    100-Year-Old C-Store Keeps Doors Open

    California fixture changes hands but will keep rustic quality.

    SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. -- If only the walls could talk at the Margarita Mercantile, a store built here in the late 1800s. The store, called "the Merc" by locals, remains a landmark in the community and will continue to do so with its sale to new owners Fares Maida and his son Mark Maida.

    The antique store has an Old West façade, with a metal imprinted ceiling and oak plank floors. The new owners plan to keep as much of the original store as possible, but still update some of the store's elements. According to Maida, some freezers do not function and the interior walls and roof need replacing.

    "If I can only refurbish and not replace parts of the store to make it better, it's better for me, because it'll save me money," Maida told the Tribune News. "But to tell you the truth, I don't think too much about the past or the future. I am only thinking about the now -- to clean it up so that we will have lots of happy customers."

    Maida currently own the Margarita Plaza liquor store, two doors down from the c-store. The family also owns the Del Mar Market, and bought the century-old store because it felt like a good business opportunity. "We know how to make a decent living out of the convenience store business … The formula for success is simple. We have a clean store, decent inventory and good service," Maida told the newspaper.

    "The most important part is the owner has to be there -- you can't just buy it and forget about it," he added.

    Former owner John Ruggles kept the store for 13 years but has decided to sell the store, which was "a lot of work," and consider a lifestyle change. But that will not keep him from the store. "I'm going to miss it … very much so," he told the Tribune News.

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