Many south Los Angeles residents were shocked Thursday morning after hearing the news that a massive fire had destroyed Parks market, a mom-and-pop store that had been a landmark at the corner of 92nd Street and Western Avenue for 27 years.
A fire investigator poking through the burnt rubble on Friday admitted he is not sure what caused the fire which totally destroyed the building.
Drivers passing by the store slowed down to view the rubble, where only the Parks logo remains.
The market sold fresh meat, fish, and groceries and gave credit to customers who were low on money. One resident recalled that the store handed out candy to the neighborhood kids.
Juanita Banks, 72, said, “I used to buy my meat at Parks. It was high quality. Somebody told me that the wiring in the store was probably faulty,” Banks said when she speculated on what caused the fire. “But I enjoyed shopping there.”
Another frequent customer, Ethel Goodman, got a 5 a.m. call from her daughter about the store. “She said, ‘Mama, guess what? Parks burned to the ground.’”
Goodman said she was stunned when she heard the news and that the store will be missed. “It was kind of a landmark,” she said. “If you needed cold cuts for the kids, you’d just go to Parks to get it. Parks was convenient–it was always there.”
Many residents remember when the store was ransacked by looters during the 1992 civil unrest. Neighborhood residents rallied around Mr. and Mrs. Parks and helped the couple with donations, allowing the store to reopen in 12 days.
Another resident who lived in the area for 53 years said, “I was really surprised when the store survived the 1992 riot. I used to shop there sometimes, but I noticed that none of the employees were black even though ninety-nine percent of the store’s customers were black. The only blacks you saw working in Parks were security guards.” Pausing, the resident added, “But they did have good meat, I’ll give Parks credit for that.”