Queens shoppers bid adieu to Sterns

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By Kathianne Boniello

Northeast Queens shoppers expressed dismay over the loss of the Stern’s Department Store in the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center this week after the chain’s owner announced it would convert its two Queens locations to Macy’s later this year.

Federated Department Stores Inc. operates more than 400 retail stores in 33 states and includes department stores such as Stern’s, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. The company said it was converting the Stern’s chain to maximize profits but was closing four of the store’s Long Island locations, including the outlet in the popular Roosevelt Field Mall.

Stern’s two Queens locations — in the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center and on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing — were slated to be transformed into Macy’s, its sister chain, sometime this summer, said parent company Federated Department Stores Inc.

Shoppers in Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center were unhappy about Stern’s exit and the coming Macy’s.

“I’m upset to hear about it actually,” said Helen Moutopoulos, who lives in Flushing but said she comes to the Douglaston Stern’s because it is more convenient. “I find everything I need here.”

Seth Greenberger of Bayside said he has lived and shopped in the area for nearly 40 years.

“Nothing seems to flourish in this store,” he said, referring to the shopping center’s location at the intersection of Douglaston Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. “I remember this store when it used to be Corvette’s. It’s going to be missed.”

The decision to close the Stern’s chain was done to improve cash flow and return on investment, said James Zimmerman, chairman and chief executive officer of Federated.

“Although this is a move we believe will benefit the most people over time, it still was not an easy decision to reach,” Zimmerman said in a statement. Converting Stern’s to the Macy’s name was expected to cost between $130 million and $150 million and put about 2,600 Stern’s employees in the region out of work.

One woman who gave her name only as Drora said she had been shopping at the Douglaston Stern’s for about 15 or 20 years and did not relish the idea of a Macy’s taking over the space.

“I love this store,” she said. “I’m not crazy about Macy’s.”

Outside Stern’s Flushing store, shoppers gave mixed reactions to the coming change.

“The quality at Macy’s is better, but Stern’s has the better price,” said Marianne Klein of Astoria.

One Jackson Heights resident who identified herself as Mrs. Schilero declared her adoration of Stern’s.

“I like Stern’s very much,” she said. “I don’t like how Macy’s is.”

<i>— Reporter Chris Fuchs contributed to this story.</i>

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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