More than two months after an impaired driver smashed through the windows at Camas Produce, forcing the market to close its doors, owners are planning the store’s reopening.
The market, located at 2940 N.E. Everett St., is expected to reopen this spring.
Owner Ali Alquraisha doesn’t have an exact date for the reopening, but said customers can expect to see advertisements announcing the exact time and date “soon.”
Alquraisha added that the reopening has taken much longer than he originally expected.
“It’s a process,” he said. “I originally thought it would be a few weeks. But when dealing with the insurance company, estimators, contractors, getting different bids, permits — it doesn’t happen overnight. Everything takes time.”
The market closed Jan. 10, after a Camas woman, Terry Scoles-Stark, drove her SUV through the store’s front window. Police said Scoles-Stark was impaired at the time of the crash.
No one in the market or vehicle was injured in the incident, but the crash shattered the market’s front windows and pushed tables into the store’s refrigeration system. Alquraisha said that is part of the reason why reopening has taken so much longer than expected. The new refrigeration equipment is estimated to arrive from the East Coast in April or early May. Once that happens, the owner will have a better idea of when customers can get back to shopping. The total cost of the damage is unknown at this point.
The city of Camas is working with Alquraisha to expedite the reopening process.
“When the automobile went through the windows, it went between the structural support columns. That prevented any significant structural damage,” said Camas building official Bob Cunningham.
Although this is the first time the market has had to close for an extended period of time, the Jan. 10 crash was not the first time Camas Produce has been impacted by a traffic crash.
Another vehicle went through the market’s windows about 10 years ago and a car hit the corner of the building in 2016.
Alquraisha, who has owned Camas Produce since 2004, has tried to take advantage of the closure to make a few minor upgrades to the store’s interior, repainting walls and grinding down the concrete floor.
With a new baby at home, Alquraisha said the closure has been difficult, but that community members have helped his family through the trying time. Customers stopped by after the accident to see how they could help and one customer even left a stack of diapers for the market owner’s 6-month-old son, Faris.
To keep customers in the loop during the Camas Produce closure, Alquraisha has been posting construction updates on his company’s Facebook site. Customers frequently comment on the social media site about missing the store’s fresh fruit and vegetables, and many have asked when the market will reopen.
Alquraisha said he is doing his best to answer questions, but the only answer he can give customers regarding the exact reopening date is “soon.”
One thing Alquraisha is concerned about is the city’s planned improvements of a nearby intersection at Northeast Lake Road and Northeast Everett Street. The market owner has been asking customers to fill out the city’s survey on the project and to ask city officials to “provide a turning lane for customers (turning) into Camas Produce.”
The city will host a second open house on the proposed intersection improvements, which could include either a traffic light or roundabout, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, at Lacamas Lake Lodge, 227 N.W. Lake Road, Camas.
For more information about Camas Produce, visit facebook.com/CamasProduce.