The 7-Eleven convenience store at Yosemite and Powers will not be the same without the familiar face of Evan Nino who some customers say has become something of an icon to them.
The store was closed for inventory Friday morning. It was a surprise to regular customers who tried to walk into the 7-Eleven for their usual coffee, doughnuts, cigarettes or other quick snacks and staples.
“The corporation is taking over the store and they bought me out, Nino said. “They gave me short notice and I didn’t have time to say goodbye to my customers.”
Nino is not married and has no children, admitting that his family is his customers who know him by his first name – and he knows them – adults and children alike.
“When I first came in here I met high school kids and their parents. Now those high school kids have children and they come in here being about 8 and 9 years old,” he said.
Nino said it is pretty much “bitter sweet” in an amazing feeling of both being sad and emotional at the same time. “I have pretty much been married to this store for the last 10 years,” he added.
Both of his parents, Albert and Claire, worked in the 7-Eleven with him for the first few years. His dad passed away some three years ago and his mother has been in ill health for over two years and could no longer help him in his store.
Longtime customer Sonja Hahn walked into the morning inventory session and asked to buy cigarettes. She was told that the store was closed and nothing could be rung up. Hearing that Nino interrupted from across the room and said to give her what she needs and take it out of what 7-Eleven owes him.
On the sidewalk in front of the store Hahn said she had been coming to Nino’s store for years.
“I’ve known Evan since he first owned the store – he’s nice and seems to be very caring,” she said.
She added that a lot of “bad stuff” has happened in the area including a recent killing in the street saying that Nino has handled it all well and kept the presentation of the store up in the process.
“He has done a wonderful job and I hate to see him go. I asked him to stock a special coffee and Styrofoam cups – he did both for me,” she recalled. “He handles all situations well. Everybody around here has known him for a long time.”
Another customer Liz Mora said she has known Nino for many years too. She voiced sadness in seeing him go. He was always very pleasant, she said.
Mora remembered when Nino encountered a thief in his business and put the culprit on the floor, lying on him with his weight shouting to a customer to call 9-1-1. He held him there until police arrived, she said.
Yet another regular customer remembers seeing the store owner chase shop lifters out the door and down the street catching up with them. The word on the street was, without question, not to mess with that 7-Eleven owner.
The popular business owner hopes to find another convenience store in the Manteca area that he can manage or own so that he can be reunited with his family of customers.