Many local residents have taken to social media to express their sadness after the closure of one of the oldest shops in Pietermaritzburg, Dhoda’s Market in Church Street.The shop recently closed its doors after about 80 years. Commenting on the Voices of Pietermaritzburg Facebook page about the closure of the beloved fruit and veggie shop, locals shared their fond childhood memories about their trips to the store.Carrie Hein Bennet said, “So sad. My mum would take us there when we were little, and the owner would always give my brothers and I a sweetie as we left.”Rockwell Cussons wrote, “I remember as a young adult buying all of my fruit and veg there then spending the weekend cooking them up into portions, gravies, sauces and the sort and freezing them for the use through the month. It’s sad news indeed that this icon will no longer be around.”Linda Naicker said “The whoonga boys are messing up the place, they just can’t deal with it anymore. Sad indeed! I believe they’re relocating.”Ian Webster wrote, “My father owned Arnold’s Pharmacy, a couple of doors up from Dhoda’s in the 70s and 80s. Dad would ask old Mr Dhoda how he knew if a melon was ripe. His reply is legendary in our family: ‘Just cut and pray, doctor. Just cut and pray’.” Wendy Schwabe said “Baboo and Ebrahim Dhoda supplied Fruit and Veg twice weekly to the Strachan & Co. Trading Store in Umzimkulu for many years, starting in the early 60s. A great business relationship between them and my father was established over the years. “What a wonderful kind and generous family. As a student at Natal Training College in PMB, I would frequently receive fruit baskets from them.”Dave Vanessa Lee wrote, “So so sad. I grew up going there every Saturday for our weekly fruit and Veg and samoosas and chilli bites.” Adré Greyling Gregory said “So very sad. The Dhodas were very good to my late mother. I remember we as young kids with our mother would walk up on a Sunday afternoon for fruit and veg shopping for the month. Old Mr Dhoda then took us home with all the shopping. “We used to get spoilt by them. So, I also shopped there for my household needs. The Dhoda chilli bites was just the best.”The Dhoda family were not available to comment of the closure of the store.Neighbouring businesses cited crime and vagrants as among the things that caused the store to close its doors.Saleem Muhamad said he has to beg vagrants to wake up and move so he can open his furniture shop on Church Street. “I don’t blame Dhoda’s for closing their doors because this place is infested with vagrants. I pray everyday before I come to work because I fear for my life. One vagrant once snatched my phone from my hand inside the store.“The police do nothing, and the municipality guys come maybe once a month to move the vagrants but they are back within an hour,” he said.John Bandley, another business owner next to Dhoda’s store, told The Witness he has to sit outside and guard his goods because the crime is “too much”. “I watch people being mugged here every day. Moving to another part of town is not even an option because crime is bad throughout the whole city,” he said.A woman who works at a shop near Dhoda’s told The Witness that by 5.30 pm, the vagrants start preparing to sleep and put their blankets in front of the shop entrances. By 6 pm, she said the area becomes a no-go zone, forcing the store owners to close early.