Penn Valley market gone for good
The last remnants of the bankrupt Penn Valley Market were forcibly removed Friday, ending the life of a community institution that did not go peacefully.
Amos Seghezzi, who operated the market for 13 years before leasing out the business in 1999, wanted to revive the failed venture but said Thursday that the owner of the Penn Valley Shopping Center wasn’t interested in doing business with him.
So Greg Seghezzi, Amos’ son, spent Wednesday and Friday supervising a work crew as it ripped out shelves and fixtures and carted away freezers and other equipment in the store.
Little was left except the ceiling, walls and floors of a business that was grossing almost $2 million a year as recently as 1999. All Amos Seghezzi has left now is a $200,000 loss and thoughts of what might have been.
“I wasn’t given a fair chance to come up with the back rent and take over the store,” he said. “I’m just disappointed for the people there, who don’t have the convenience of the store anymore.”
Gladys Martinez, owner of the shopping center, wouldn’t discuss her negotiations with the Seghezzis, but made it clear the deteriorating condition of the store in recent months influenced her decision to seek a new tenant.
“If you looked at the stuff that went to the dump, all the equipment, the refrigeration …,” she said Thursday. “If you went inside the store right now, you’d know why.”
The problems began in 1999, when Amos Seghezzi decided to step away from day-to-day operation of the store and leased the business to Douglas A. Dunsdon.
Dunsdon filed for bankruptcy in January, listing debts of between $500,000 and $1 million. Among his creditors was Amos Seghezzi, who was owed $200,000.
“It was definitely mismanagement,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for somebody.”
Amos Seghezzi said that after Dunsdon closed the store, negotiations with Martinez through her attorney dragged on through April and into May. Financial statements requested by Martinez were submitted, but the Seghezzis say she ignored them.
Meanwhile, store inventory Greg Seghezzi values at $25,000 to $30,000 disappeared.
Martinez said she wasn’t the only person who had a key to the business but that she did arrange to have “rotten food” removed from the freezers and hauled to the dumps. She also reported to the sheriff’s office the apparent theft of a meat slicer.
“If you let a market sit around for three or four months, it just deteriorates,” Amos Seghezzi said.
Finally, a notice was posted on the store May 10 giving the Seghezzis 15 days to remove their possessions.
“I didn’t drive down there every day, so we didn’t find about it until we received a notice May 28 telling us to be out by June 3. We were able to negotiate another week,” Amos Seghezzi said.
When it became clear that they weren’t going to get a new lease, Greg Seghezzi said they offered to sell the store fixtures to Martinez, “but she said it was all crap and wasn’t worth keeping.”
Most of the fixtures removed from the store last week will have to be junked, Greg Seghezzi said. “When you pull the equipment out of the store, the value drops to nothing. It was frustrating to me because we didn’t get a chance to recoup our investment.”
Martinez said she wants to see another grocery store in the space but hasn’t lined up a tenant yet.
For Amos Seghezzi, it marks the end of a successful retail career that began when he went to work for SPD Market in 1961. He opened Amos’ Bottle Shop in 1972 and purchased Alta Sierra Market in 1978, increasing business substantially.
He sold both businesses in 1986 to take over the then bankrupt Penn Valley Market, completely renovating the building and adding a liquor department and butcher shop.
Seghezzi, who turned 69 last Thursday, is philosophical about the loss of $200,000 and a business he spent 13 years building.
“A higher power is taking care of me,” he said.
“I’m relaxed and living the good life.”
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