Liberty Market Owners Moving Out, Fire Investigation Continues

Two break-ins after fire prompts moving stock into storage; building hasn't had heat in two years.


Movers were busy loading Liberty Market's stock onto a box truck parked in front of the 95 Main St. location Tuesday as Asim Jamil and his parents, Sabrina and Sheikh, supervised.

The food probably won't be re-stocked on the market's shelves there again. Asim says they're not planning on returning.

Sabrina said the building, known as the Commericial Block, hasn't had heat for the last two years. She said the section they rent for Liberty Market needs new wiring. It doesn't have sprinklers, either. 

The Jamil family decided to move the market's stock into storage after they lost a deli slicer, a computer and "about one of everything," in the market to two break-ins shortly after a fire within the building's walls last Monday.

On Dec. 3, Sabrina was working by herself at the market at 11:15 a.m. when a man came into the store to tell her there was smoke coming from the back of the building. The landlord's son, whom Sabrina only knows as "JP", was there, she said, and he tried putting out the fire with an extinquisher, but it didn't work. "So I called police," she said.

Police and firefighters arrived a short time later, and spent the next six hours there working to put out the fire between the building's double brick walls. "The market will not reopen," said Deputy Fire Chief Paul Russell as they wrapped up the work of making the building safe for the tenants on the second floor to re-enter. Russell was speaking short term, but the remark may prove apt long-term, too.  

The fire forced the business to shut down on the orders of the Woonsocket Fire Marshal, although Sabrina said they lost no product. The only damage the lower floor appears to have suffered is a hole in the double-layered brick wall firefighters had to put in the wall to get to the fire, and a pile of bricks and boards pulled off the walls.  Crane your neck a bit, and you can see up to the second floor. 

Sabrina said she doesn't think the fire started on their floor. Woonsocket Fire Marshal Mike Morin couldn't say much about the fire since it's still under investigation. However, he said, its origin was, "definitely below the second floor."

Regardless of where the fire started, it's ended the Jamil family's patience with the Commercial Block building, which Sheikh said cost them $90,000 to set up their business in. The business was insured, but only for the stock, and that's still intact. When asked if they'll open the market again, "Not here," Asim said.

Economic Development Director Matt Wojcik said he's working with the Jamils to find a new space for them to move into. The main challenge with finding another place on Main Street, he said, is that there's no "turnkey" spot for them to move into. Many of the market's customers walk with canes or use wheelchairs, so the next place they move to has to be handicapped-accessible.

"In my opinion, it's not good property management to rent to and fail to provide them heat to the point of human comfort," Wojcik said. 

In March of 2011, Stamatos Property Management, a company based in Jamaica Plain, MA, owned by , summoning new hope for the persevering business people renting there. The building houses 10 of Main Street's storefronts, which included Harlequin's Costumes, Liberty Market,Flea Market Square and Renaissance at the time. It also has 16 apartments on the second floor.

Since then, Wojcik said, the lack of heat in the building also contributed to Harlequin Costumes shuttering its storefront. The shop had been in the spot for 27 years when it closed this summer, according to a Channel 6 report. Wojcik said customers couldn't comfortably change in and out of costumes in the winter at the shop.

Wojcik said the building has a huge, inefficient boiler heating system that's expensive to keep running. However, he said, Stamatos should have taken that into account when he bought the property, or done something to provide heat there by now if it caught him by surprise.

City officials had high hopes for Stamatos Property Management's ownership of the building in 2011. "They've been a big disappointment," Wojcik said.

Jean-Paul Paquette December 14, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Great place for the new Pawn Shop.....
Nelson Aldrich December 14, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Countrywide Gold Buyers?
Uncle Ben December 14, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Don't say Pawn Shop too loud Mr baldelli at Mr Pawn might get mad, I like it how everyone else can have competition but when it comes to another Pawn Shop Mr Baldelli cries and complains, also makes a truck into a billboard saying no more Pawn Shops, Pizza places don't cry, Liqour stores don't cry Hamburger joints don't cry Donut shops don't cry Super markets don't cry Gas Stations don't cry, Used furniture stores don't cry, Only Mr Pawn Cries, Whaaaaah, its not all about you Mr Baldelli.
Tina Rivard December 14, 2012 at 05:21 AM
I help out at one of the 3 second hand store (that were not mentioned as businesses) I can attest there has not been heat in the stores or upstairs. Unless you put your own electric heater or as upstairs does put stove on. Both hazards to the old electrical outlets. Many people do not like second hand stores. But we provide affordable clothes, furniture, toys, etc that most people of Woonsocket would not be able to have. Woonsocket is not a rich city. City hall has been called numerous times to see if they could help. NOTHING has been done. The new owners just like owners in the past do NOTHING. These businesses have been here for decades. Help would be appreciated. When store fronts were rented the rent included heat. As for the Pawn shop. Let them give it a try Mr Baldelli, Ive listened to the pros and cons of your arguement. What it comes down to is you want to be the only one. Not fair. Get your billboard truck out of the parking lot. Its surpassing the maximum allotment of hours there. (there is a sign). On another note, when I went to the council meeting and your followers arrived, why did most of their cars only have one license plate. (just an observation) one or two I could understand but there were alot more than that. Now to the Jamil's I know them personally and hope they find a spot soon. They are hard working people who didnt deserve this
Paradis December 15, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Best of luck to the Jamil family, hope you get a much better building for your store perhaps the one coveted by the pawn shop.


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