By Jesse Brooks
Community members, vendors and coworkers are protesting a decision of the Walgreens chain of drugstores to transfer the popular, longtime manager of the store at 81st Avenue and International Boulevard.
Customers say manager Hassen Almaweri has brought positive changes, making people feel safe and welcome while they are in the store. They say he has the ability to deal with irate customers and can manage the problems associated with shoplifting and other crimes.
He has been working at the store since 1989, starting as a service clerk. He has been manager since 1999.
If he is not brought back, some customers who have patronized the store for years have threatened to take their business elsewhere. Supporters have even created a “Save Mr. Hassen” Facebook page.
Coworkers said Hassen made every customer who walked into the store feel like a close friend and leave feeling like a family member. He treated his customers and employees with respect and dignity and ensured they were treated fairly.
Since he was transferred, the community has not been the same, according to one coworker. Hassen had a great impact on the community and sales that no one understands the meaning behind this move.
Staff at Allen Temple Arms Retirement Home and East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), which are across the street from the store, expressed concerns about the transfer.
Regina Jackson, EOYDC executive director, was the author of the Facebook page. “District 58 (of Walgreens) has made the wrong decision in transferring him because it is affecting so many people that the morale in the store is weak,” she said.
A representative from Walgreens, Community Manager Terry Conners, said that the protests unfortunately will not do any good.
“The pain that people are feeling is understandable, like separating a family,” she said. But Hassen is being transferred to Richmond a location where the store is state of the art and less than one year old.
“So we feel it’s a great opportunity for him,” she said.
Temela Harris, who was Hassen’s assistant manager for only 14 months, has enjoyed working with someone who is so highly experienced. “It has been by far the greatest experience I have ever had,” she said.