ANTIOCH -- An Antioch thrift store that has clothed struggling families through the ongoing recession and become a gathering place for local seniors for more than 15 years will close its doors on Oct. 28.

The Hospice of the East Bay Thrift Shoppe is the latest in a string of retail and grocery stores that have closed along the troubled Delta Fair Boulevard corridor in Antioch. Located along the 2700 block of Delta Fair, the popular thrift store is located in a strip mall that has many empty storefronts, including the former anchor location of Food Maxx, which left last summer.

"It is in a location that is quite blighted," said Hospice's general manager for retail operations Patricia Wright. "It is a haven for a negative element. It is not a safe place for customers or employees."

According to Wright, the store's outdoor trash receptacles have been set on fire or vandalized numerous times. After being unable to find a new location in Antioch, Hospice instead opted to open a new store in Martinez at 550 Morello Avenue on Nov. 10.

"We want a more upscale feeling," Wright said. "Most of our stores are known for being upscale vintage boutiques."

Regular customers at the Antioch store said they are disappointed to lose the place where they found used clothing, furniture and household items at economical prices.

"When they entered the store, they would have a twinkle in their eyes and a smile on their face, as they collected a small treasure as well as objects that they needed," said volunteer Vikki Marquez. "With the economy so depressed, there a lot of families who need us for their everyday needs."

While raising money for Hospice's programs and services for the critically ill, the store is frequented by financially strapped parents looking for $1 clothing items during the monthly clearance specials, and seniors and individuals with special needs who visited on outings.

"Like a ritual every month, families would get their checks and come in. That is how they kept their kids in clothes," said store manager Richard Cervantez.

Cervantez noted that many of the customers will not be able to travel to other Hospice stores in Walnut Creek, Danville, Concord, Alamo, Dublin or Walnut Creek. Currently, all merchandise is 25 percent off at the Antioch store. As the closing date nears, the remaining items will be marked down by 80 percent, Cervantez said.

Although Wright said that all of the stores carry treasures, the Antioch store was not receiving as many donations in recent years. Cervantez described it as a family store that is staffed by three employees and several longtime volunteers, but he added that the area's downturn has been an ongoing problem.

"We do have a lot of problems with the homeless in the area," he said.

The store is at 2742 Delta Fair Blvd., Antioch. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 925-777-0866.

Reach staff writer Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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