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Some say the location is a tough sell, but that won't stop Burlington Coat factory from opening its first Queens store in the Glen Oaks Shopping Center this spring.
According to Bill Minyard, district manager for the New Jersey-based-based retailer, the new location at 258-01 Union Turnpike will open on March 21. It will provide jobs for about 100 people, he said.
"I think it's great news," said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13. "It is a strong company, and it is well respected."
The building has been vacant for about a year, since the previous occupant, Kmart, closed in March 2002 as part of that company's Chapter 11 restructuring. Several of Kmart's predecessors, which include Caldor, Mays and a flea market, were unable to make good in the location.
But the company is confident it can succeed in northeast Queens. "The big reason is the sheer population that's in the area," said Minyard. "It's a population we do well with."
Hellenbrecht agreed with that assessment of the neighborhood. "The location is good," he said. "It's close to the Grand Central, close to Glen Oaks Village with solidly middle-class people close by. It should be a good draw."
Besides, Minyard added, Burlington Coat Factory has thrived where other department stores have languished. "Over the past three years," he said, "our biggest growth has come from former Bradley's and Kmart locations."
He said that this year alone Burlington Coat Factory would open 20 to 30 stores on sites formerly occupied by Kmart outlets.
Shoppers peering at the large signs reading "Coming Soon: Burlington Coat Factory" Monday were enthusiastic as well. "I like Burlington," said Emily Merolla, a Floral Park retiree who was shopping with her husband, Sal. "They sell linens and baby stuff. I used Kmart, but I prefer Burlington."
And another retiree from Little Neck, who would only give her name as Belle, said she greatly preferred Burlington Coat Factory's offerings to Kmart's "garbage-y" merchandise.
Burlington Coat Factory offers discount outerwear, apparel, shoes, accessories, furniture, baby clothes, toys and furniture as well as, of course, coats. The company currently has Long Island locations in Garden City, Lawrence, Patchogue, and Smithtown, and one Manhattan store in Chelsea.
The new store should provide a good local option for Queens consumers, who often take their spending dollars out of the city to shopping centers in Nassau County.
"Absolutely, it is not often enough that we get a good store like that to provide an opportunity to shop," Hellenbrecht said. "A lot of people are attracted to the bigger malls outside the city, because there's more to do. Unfortunately, we can't offer that, but this is a step in the right direction."
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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