2012-06-20 / Features

Crain’s NY Reports Food Bazaar Will Open At Pathmark Site

A new bazaar is coming to Long Island City. Or is it?

Reports published last week on the Real Deal and Crain’s New York Business Web sites said the Food Bazaar Supermarket chain has signed on to open a store in Long Island City—at the 5,500-square-foot Long Island City site soon to be abandoned by Pathmark.

In a May 30 statement to the press, Marcy Connor, spokesperson for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), confirmed that the Pathmark store will close on August 27. Connor described the move as a “very difficult circumstance for …associates, customers, partners and the local communities”.

Shoppers have been questioning store officials since the announcement, trying to determine what is in store for the building at 42-02 Northern Blvd. after Pathmark pulls up stakes. Rumors began circulating at the store and in the community in early June that a Food Bazaar Supermarket would be opening at the Pathmark site.

The report by Crain’s New York Business said the Pathmark move is a “tough break” for Long Island City—and that Food Bazaar has “signed on for the Pathmark space.”

Justin Shawn, Director of Corporate Affairs for the Bogopa Service Corporation said Bogopa currently operates four stores in Queens, including a market at Junction Boulevard and 34th Avenue in Corona. Bogopa is a privately owned company that operates full-service supermarkets in the tristate metropolitan area under the name Food Bazaar.

Pathmark, one of the first supermarket grocery chains, was the brainchild of three partners – Herb Brody, Milton Perlmutter and Alex Aidekman, who in 1968 discovered a market for stores that offer bulk items at low prices.

Pathmark was known, in the 1970s and 1980s, for its innovative employee and customer programs. The chain was first to offer customer discount cards and in-store pharmacies.

Pathmark opened three independent pharmacies in Queens in the mid-1980s, but was forced to close the stores several years later when the economy went into a downward spiral.

A&P has also announced its plans to shut a Waldbaum’s Supermarket at 42-40 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside by the end of the summer. According to the local Community Board, H-Mart, a supermarket specializing in Asian products, will take over the 19,000- square-foot store after Waldbaum’s moves out.

Store and union officials met with employees at the Long Island City Pathmark Supermarket on May 29 to deliver some bad news.

The supermarket that has been a fixture of the community for more than three decades is closing its doors in September.

News of the closure did not come as a surprise to long-time Pathmark employees who spoke in clusters following the May 29 meeting.

“I heard this rumor three years ago,” one employee said. “It’s been rumored since A&P bought the Pathmark chain.”

Employees said another rumor has been circulating. “There’s word that Stop ‘N Shop is moving from 48th Street to this location,” the employees said. “But nothing is certain.”

A union shop steward who has worked at the store for nearly 12 years told the Gazette that a dwindling customer base forced A&P officials to target the Long Island City store for closure.

“So many people in this area are shopping at big box stores like Costco,” the employee said. “This used to be a ‘Super Store’ that had lots of products available in large bundles. But stores like this can’t compete with the Costcos, so those deals disappeared and people found them at these other stores.”

Threats of job cuts encouraged disgruntled Pathmark employees last year to settle a contract dispute with A&P, workers said. “We ended up agreeing to a 50 percent cut in future salary and benefit packages—with the promise that when things get better for the company, they’ll get better for us,” the workers said. “What a crock.”

When the store closes in three months, Pathmark employees with five or more years on the job will have the opportunity to transfer to another Pathmark store, a Waldbaum’s or A&P store, the union rep said. Each of the stores are part of the A&P family, he said.

“People who have been here less than five years will lose their jobs,” the union rep said. “That’s a real shame, because most of them are young kids, working to pay for college or helping out at home. In this economy it’s going to be tough for them to find other jobs.”

Officials said customers can take advantage of Pathmark prices by visiting their store on Farrington Street, just off Northern Boulevard in Flushing.

“This is rough,” a 19-year-old cashier said. “Tuition is going up 50 percent and I’m out of a job by September,” the young woman said. “If I can’t get another job right away, I have to quit college,” she said. “This is so unfair. I can’t believe it.”

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