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.

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.