Every day, Miss Anna comes to the Gallery - and on Tuesday, she was particularly elegant, in a long purple sweater, fashionable hairstyle, her eyebrows etched in darkly, perfectly arched.

"Her brother died two years ago," said George Thomas, who owns the Creative Silver jewelry kiosk on the ground floor. "She was crushed. If I don't see Miss Anna for two days, I worry. I call her."

Who will worry about Anna Mazella, an Aramark retiree in her 80s, when Thomas closes his business - not by choice - at the end of the month?

In November, the Gallery's owners, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and the Macerich Co., began to tell dozens of merchants that they would have deadlines to leave - some by the end of December, others at the end of January or February.

Transformation is in the offing, they say, combining high-end shops and residential, part of the planned remake of what had become the tired Market Street East retail corridor.

Acknowledging that the change will be disruptive and will cause large parts of the mall to be closed during renovations, "I think that, at the end of the day, the city will be better as a result," said Heather Crowell, PREIT spokeswoman.

Whatever business reasons there are for changes at the Gallery - and some are long overdue at the city's largest mall - a world is ending.

Cook Steven Seth, 38, eased breaded chicken into a fryer Tuesday at Chick-fil-A in the food court - a job he's held for 12 years. He met his girlfriend, Wanda Whitfield, 41, when she started working there, and they've been together since 2003, living in Northeast Philadelphia.

Now both are out of jobs as of the end of the week, along with 24 other employees.

Tigest Tessema, who came to the United States from Ethiopia and has been selling organic oils and scarves at her Paradise kiosk for eight years, will be out of a livelihood.

Had she known she wouldn't have been able to renew her lease, she wouldn't have paid the $9,000 extra to operate during the holiday season on top of her monthly rent of $1,800. She put it on her credit card.

"Each cart here," she said, "we are friends, like family."

It's a United Nations family exemplifying the American dream. Jannat Ferdous' husband owns the Gallery of Scents kiosk - a business he opened a year after coming to the U.S. from Bangladesh.

The kiosk supports the two of them and two children. They are homeowners in Upper Darby. "This is hard for us," she said.

On the third floor, John Philipose, 65, from India, will close his store Feb. 28. With stores shuttering all around, business is bad.

"I have $500,000 worth of merchandise," he said, "but even if I give it free, who is going to come here?"

Thomas, at Creative Silver, counts himself lucky. He has enough money to lease and outfit a store on the 600 block of South Street.

"PREIT stole our money," he said. "They robbed every merchant in the building," by charging them a holiday surcharge and not marketing. That charge explains the $9,000 bill that Tessema must find a way to pay.

Santa Claus, for example, didn't set up in the central courtyard this Christmas.

Crowell said PREIT gave many tenants a free month's rent in January.

Buying two rolls of toilet paper from Dollar Island, Miss Anna Mazella wonders where all of the high-end customers will come from. She wouldn't buy the analysis of assistant marketing professor Jason Crook at Philadelphia University. He said a Gallery makeover is needed, since the mall now fails to serve its natural market of tourists.

"They want high-end rent," scoffed Mazella, of Pennsauken. "Where are the high-end customers with the high-end money?"

Not too many of them are eating in the Gallery's food court, Crook said.

But Carlos Morales, 75, eats there every day, nursing a dollar cup of coffee from McDonald's. On Tuesday, he had lunch with a friend he met four years ago in the food court. As far as the friend is concerned, the makeover can't come soon enough.

"Basura," trash, he sneered. Drugs, prostitution, noisy schoolkids fighting, people sleeping.

Folks drift in from the methadone clinic across the street.

At Creative Silver, Thomas has seen it all.

"They are our customers," he said. "Just because they are on medication doesn't mean they aren't customers."

To him, it's business and it's life.

"What's the street outside called?" he asked rhetorically. "It's called Market. Market."

215-854-2769 @JaneVonBergen www.philly.com/jobbing