Earlier this summer, Mustafa Ali hung a new sign over his door and quietly expanded Juba Market to Smoke Shop Corner.
To passersby, it’s now the fifth smoke shop on Mountain View Drive. To Ali, it’s a second chance.
The African market he runs with his wife was struggling, he said. They sell traditional foods, clothes and various household goods, but with every fish processing plant closure and oilfield job loss, customers are cutting back and moving away. Ali saw news stories about the state’s looming economic woes. His family had to make a decision.
So they decided to do what they could: use a long-held license to sell tobacco, install a new sign, reconfigure the storefront, restock the front counter with cartons of cigarettes and stay open for business, part halal market, part smoke shop.
“It’s survival,” Ali said
This story has been edited for clarity.