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Marin City Market Owner Nita Hayden Vasquez, 80



Nita Hayden Vasquez. Photo provided by Sheri Murphy for Marin IJ.

By Godfrey Lee

Nita Hayden Vasquez, who owned Hayden’s Market in Marin City, died Jan. 11, 2023, in Tampa, Fla., of natural causes.

She was 80 years old.

Vasquez made many friends when she lived in Marin City. The small market also allowed people to forge community bonds, reported the Marin IJ.

“Nita was the first Black businesswoman that I ever met and she inspired me to do law enforcement, be very independent, and not back down,” said Valanza Wilson-Parker, a cashier who worked in the market. “Everyone didn’t agree with her, and she didn’t care. She danced to her own beat.”

Royce McLemore, said that Vasquez “set herself apart from any Black woman in Marin City, and showed all her hard work from her store. She was business savvy.”

Felecia Gaston, executive director of Performing Stars, and founder of the Marin City Historical and Preservation Society, described Vasquez as a trailblazer, role model and business leader.  “Nita Hayden Vasquez exemplified hard work, pride, and loyalty to help in keeping her parents’ business alive, which in turn contributed to the legacy of Marin City,” Gaston said.

Hayden’s Market was located at the intersection of Cole Drive and Drake Avenue. Locals used to gather outside the store in an area they called “The Front,” McLemore said

Vasquez’s father, Daniel Hayden, founded the Market in 1956. The familyhad  moved to California from Louisiana during World War II in 1943 to seek work and a new life near the shipyards, said Bea Stephens, Vasquez’s sister.

After the war, Daniel Hayden settled in Marin City, and operated the store until he passed away in 1982. Vasquez took over until the mid-1990s when the land was sold to developers by its owner, the Tamalpais High School District.

It was the only commercial business in Marin City, a Black-owned business in a predominantly Black-owned town,” Wilson-Parker said to the SF Gate. “It had the first and only arcade and Pac-Man. The kids can come, have pizza and burritos, and actually sit there and have something to do.”

The late rapper Tupac Shakur, who grew up in Marin City, also visited the store, and told Vasquez:  “I love how you keep your head up, Nita.” Shakur later returned to Marin City and said that Vasquez had inspired some of his lyrics.

Hayden’s Market was located across from the housing project since 1962, giving people in the community a place to meet and socialize. It was torn down when the (Gateway) Shopping Center was built in Marin City. The developers, which include the San Francisco-based Martin Group, insisted they had no obligation to provide space in the new shopping center to Hayden’s Market or other existing businesses.

Vasquez said that while it was time for Marin City to be developed, she was also treated unfairly by the developers, and was bitter that she was denied her livelihood when she did not become a part of the new center.

Ms. Hayden Vasquez is survived by her daughter Sheri Murphy and a granddaughter; sisters Bea Stephens and Flo Hamilton and brother Daniel Hayden Jr.

The post Marin City Market Owner Nita Hayden Vasquez, 80 first appeared on Post News Group. This article originally appeared in Post News Group.


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