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Downtown Portland to be Flea For All – A place blacks go to get fleas?
On Friday it became official: Paul’s Food Center will indeed be closing next month after 40 years as the city’s downtown grocery story.

The family of the eponymous Paul Trusiani, who passed away in September, decided to close the store and sell the building, located at 585-593 Congress St., to a partnership that includes the owners of the Portland-based, high-end flea market Flea-for-All and Barrett Made, a construction company based in South Portland. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Erin Kiley, who owns the Flea-for-All with her husband, told the Portland Press Herald that they purchased the building under a separate limited liability company in order to qualify for a small business loan.

The other tenants in the building — the used book store Yes Books and the locally-sourced restaurant Vinland — will remain open. The 14 apartments on the upper floors of the building will also not be affected by the purchase, aside from renovations to four vacant units.

“We love all of our tenants, and we have no plans to change anything,” Kiley told the Press Herald.

The impact the closure of Paul’s will have on the community as a whole was the topic of conversation for many shoppers, who rely on the convenience of the store’s downtown location for their grocery shopping. Other grocery stores in Portland, like Hannaford, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are a considerable distance from downtown Portland.

“I haven’t gone to Hannaford or Shaw’s in a long time because I’ve had the convenience of this,” Judy Krantz, a shopper at Paul’s, told the Press Herald, noting she doesn’t own a vehicle. “I guess I’m going to have to if I want to eat.”

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling told the Press Herald that he’s spoken with other local business to see if the void created by the closure of Paul’s can be filled by a similar establishment.

“It’s going to leave a real gap in the cityscape, [a grocery store] that people can walk to and that has such a neighborhood feel,” Strimling told the Press Herald. “We’re losing a little bit of our heart, a little bit of our soul.”