Recent store closures in the Safeway shopping center at 48th Street and Elliot Road have remaining businesses worried about the economy.

"They lost a lot of money," said Joseph Shemali, owner of Joseph's Hair Salon as he looked down the sidewalk at the empty stores. "The rent is not too high but the owners... when they need the money they need the money. I think that's what happened."

Shemali has seen in the past few weeks the closure of Phoenix Holistic Health Center and then Abacus Inn. His shop lies in between the two empty store fronts. Soon the shopping center will also lose Walgreens as it moves to a new location.

"It scares the hell out of me," Shemali said. "I have kids. I have a family. We just hope for the best."

The closures came suddenly. Dr. James Stubbs, a chiropractor at Back in Line Family Chiropractic in Ahwatukee, said he often referred patients to Phoenix Holistic Health for acupuncture treatments. He was shocked to hear they closed.

"I used to send patients there for acupuncture and got great results," Stubbs said. "I'm really sad to hear they closed their doors. It came as a complete surprise to me. I'm just looking for a new acupuncturist that's local. Unfortunately, I haven't found anyone that I have a good relationship with yet. Before the center even opened I went in and got to know them and talked to them. I felt very comfortable sending people over there."

Gayle Palms, who owned the holistic center, left a message for clients on the office's voice mail.

"Effective June 1 the Phoenix Holistic Health Center has closed its doors," Palms says on the message. "Unfortunately due to the recession, struggles with the high rent and forever climbing fees I've run out of money. I made the painful decision to close the center. I'm going to miss the warm feeling of the community and the support I received from many of you. I'm not sure what the future will bring so I will keep you updated through email."

The message continues with contact information for the different doctors that worked at the center in case patients need to get in contact with them.

Palms was featured in a recent Ahwatukee Foothills News story, published April 27, talking about medical marijuana. Palms hoped to find a location in Ahwatukee that would allow her to extend her apothecary to include medical marijuana.

The owners of Abacus Inn could not be reached for comment. The restaurant won third place for Best Asian Food in the Ahwatukee Foothills News in 2008 and 2009.

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