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Wildwood market reopens

(ran South, East editions)

Jacobi Boykins, 2, bounced an orange ball in an aisle while his mother shopped. Outside the market, two or three Wildwood Heights residents stood and chatted in the morning shade. Inside, owner Isam Jaber talked on the telephone.

Jaber, whose customers call him "Sam," is still making last-minute arrangements. But the Wildwood Meat Market opened Monday a little more than a year after a deliberately set fire closed it down.

"I'm glad I'm back," said Jaber. "It's been a while. Everything is fresh and new. The customers like that, too."

Jaber, a Palestinian who immigrated 16 years ago, has owned the market at 1228 28th St. S since 1989.

On Oct. 24, 1996, someone set the store on fire during the first of two nights of civil disturbances. The blaze gutted the store and destroyed its stock.

"It's been a long year," Jaber said.

While going through the reopening process at his market, Jaber worked at a relative's store, the Rajax Meat Market on Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street S. He said insurance covered much of his $270,000 loss.

Jaber said the store will have the same array of food and household supplies as it did before. "I'm still in the process of adding more inventory," he said. The meat counter, for example, won't be complete for a few more days. When it is, Gerald Grayson will be back as butcher, the job he had before the fire.

Jaber said he plans a more formal grand opening, probably sometime next week.

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