By Kathy Chouteau
The Arlington Market, a neighborhood mainstay in East Richmond Heights, will celebrate its 65th anniversary on Sunday, June 28.
Owners of the market, located at 6462 Arlington Blvd. in Richmond, are still finalizing their plans for the occasion, but will likely give away baklava pastries or something special to their customers that day.
Brothers Najeeb and Saleh Alqablani immigrated to the Bay Area from Yemen in the 1990s and assumed ownership of the Arlington Market in 1998. Both brothers live nearby their business in the East Richmond Heights neighborhood and operate the market with the help of their sons and extended family members.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I’ve gone into the store and they haven’t asked about my son,” said Zach Chouteau, a local resident and this writer’s husband. “It’s your quintessential neighborhood market and Najeeb and Saleh are two of the kindest guys around.”
The market, also fondly known by some as “the little store,” offers customers a wide variety of home essentials from its spot on the corner of Arlington Blvd. and Olive Ave. From pantry fillers to drinks to wine and alcohol to cleaning products, to pet food, to Lotto tickets and so much more, the market is always at the ready for families on the move.
In recent years, the brothers expanded the market’s produce section to include a wider variety of vegetables and a rack stocked daily with freshly baked Acme bread.
“I’m very happy to be here in this great neighborhood and with the customers,” said Saleh Alqablani about running the market. “The market here, we continue to support this neighborhood. We try to stock it the best [so] when you guys come in, you’ll find everything you’re looking for.”
According to East Richmond Heights resident John Perdigao, his parents—Manuel & Beatrice Perdigao—built the Arlington Market in a vacant lot and then officially opened it June 28, 1955. “It was much smaller until they expanded the building wider in 1958,” he said about the original market.
“My family’s market would remain in the family for 43 years,” Perdigao added. “I myself would work there for almost 30 years and [became] co-owner with my dad after my mom passed away in 1984.”
In 1960, Perdigao’s parents also bought the property across the street from the market that now is home to a laundromat and a dog grooming business. According to Perdigao, back then the property has played home to tenants including a barbershop, dry cleaners and shoe shine repair.
Together with the market, the laundromat and dog grooming business combine to create the unofficial “downtown” of East Richmond Heights.
“To the current owners, who bought the business from us in 1998, I wish them another 65 years,” said Perdigao.
When asked what the best part about running the Arlington Market these days, Saleh Alqablani said, “I’m very happy when I see all the neighbors here. They’re not only customers—they’re neighbors. We make a lot of friends and we see them every day.”