In response to complaints from people whose cars were towed from Stop & Shop's parking lot, the Little Neck supermarket will no longer automatically tow cars that appear to violate the store's shoppers-only parking policy, store manager Jeff Greenberg said last week.
"We're not looking to alienate anybody," Greenberg said. "That is not what Stop & Shop is all about."
Instead, security guards will remind drivers of what signs in the lot on Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway already say: that the lot is for supermarket customers only.
"We are not towing anyone as of right now," said Greenberg, who emphasized the company's preventive approach using the warning system.
What would happen to parkers who ignore warnings was not clear. Greenberg said the store would "play it by ear."
Stop & Shop opened Jan. 30 to great fanfare after a $4 million renovation of the former Grand Union site, which closed in October 2000 due to bankruptcy.
Since the store's opening, four cars have been towed from the lot, with three or four complaints registered with store management, Greenberg said.
Rick Stockwood, a spokesman for the Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop, said the complaints were taken seriously and the company was "trying to figure something out."
"The parking lot is really small for the number of customers that visit the store," said Stockwood, noting that the lot had 140 spaces.
Greenberg said the problem stemmed from people using the Stop & Shop lot to run errands in the neighborhood. A post office, bank and library all lie within blocks of the store, as does an International House of Pancakes, whose patrons also use the supermarket lot, Greenberg said.
"There's very little parking around here," he said, adding that the no-parking rule on Northern Boulevard from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. encouraged people to use the store's lot.
Greenberg added that Stop & Shop had given signs to neighboring businesses warning their patrons not to park there.
The store's 150 employees are not permitted to use the parking lot and are encouraged to use mass transit.
Greenberg said the store had approached some local churches and the Scobee Diner about using their parking lots for employees.
Mark Duma, chairman of the Little Neck Pines Association, said he had not heard of any complaints but supported Stop & Shop's right to tow cars that had been there for an extended period of time.
"If people are not supposed to be keeping their cars there all day, I'm all for it," said Duma, whose civic group helped bring the supermarket to Little Neck.
"If you park your car there and you're doing a lot of other errands - sorry."
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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