Convenience stores become the latest casualties in the war on drugs

The sidewalk in front of Wafana's, a convenience store on Lyndale Avenue and North 24th Street, was for years known as a place to score all manner of illegal drugs. But last November, in a crackdown on troublemaking corner stores, the city finally forced Wafana's to close.

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So far, eight stores have gotten the ax, reports Grant Wilson, business license manager for the city. "These are places people don't feel safe walking by," he says. The new get-tough policy, he asserts, has been "a great success. Some stores changed their behavior to cooperate with police. In other cases we had to revoke licenses."

Joan, a longtime neighbor of Wafana's who asked that her last name not be used, applauds its demise. She says she used to call the cops five times a day complaining of drug dealing in front of the store. "I didn't have to give an address to 911," she recalls. "All I had to do was say 'Wafana's.' And I'm calling from a cell."

While she appreciates the now-quiet sidewalk in front of the empty storefront, the peace is not total: The drug dealers, she says, have found a new spot a couple blocks away.


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