East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

The First Street Store

The First Street Store opened in 1924. I consider it a vintage store that had good deals, which is what got people’s attention, especially lower-class people. This store was like a Target or Walmart, but a smaller version with a lot of different departments for household items. I loved going into the snack bar; the smell of nacho cheese dragged me right in. There was also a section where you paid your bills, which was where my mom worked. This place got packed around 2pm. From far away, I couldn’t see my mom in her booth because of the airport-like lines she had in front of her. It sounded like I was in a rock concert. My mother had to find another job when the First Street Store closed back in 2007.

The First Street Store had a great impact on my life because it was where my mom got her first job. We were living in Pico Rivera at the time so my mom had to catch the 40 Montebello bus to work every day. My mom had relationship issues with my dad, which led my mom to leave him. Since the job was closer to East L.A., we moved a block away from the First Street Store. I went to the school right next to it called Belvedere Elementary.

While my mother was jobless, developers began  building a charter high school named Alliance College Ready. They first closed down the Ranch Market and opened the small school there. The First Street Store right now is  an empty lot. An article  in the The Eastside describes how fat pigeons rested on the arches that framed a row on the Aztec murals. I agree with that because I saw  the pigeons too. It is not pretty.

I think a landmark is a place that  has been somewhere for a long time, so long that people get used to it and end up creating a nickname for it. The nickname for the First Street Store was  “La Primera.” Anyone in East L.A knew what and where it was. I think the First Street Store had great significance to the people here and I am grateful for the nearby services it provided.

Keeping the murals is the least they can do since they are expanding the school into the First Street Store. But ever since it closed down, fewer people stop by. These murals represent hardship and symbolize success for what people might be going through. The other stores near this landmark lost customers. Many people lost their jobs and it sort of went downhill from there. People had to find another way. I suggest you come and visit the murals once they are done building the school. That is something they cannot take down so other people can see what symbolizes East L.A. to our community.