On July 27, we finally had the long-awaited meeting with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone); state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing); William Chen, general manager for New York Mart; and myself along with Barbara Rogers, Rosa Febles and Sonny Weinberg, all community activists.
Our hope was to come to an agreement regarding the new market replacing the former Key Food on Roosevelt Avenue and Bowne Street.
I spoke to some of the 1,369 people who signed the petition back in April trying to save Key Food. I took some of the ideas given me by my neighbors and presented them to Chen.
Some of the ideas were:
• A full line of name-brand products, frozen foods and dairy products and a variety of specialty foods encompassing all ethnic groups.
• A meat department that will include a full line of USDA-inspected meats, chickens and turkeys and a butcher on site to cut meats or chickens upon request.
• A full deli department including cold cuts, salads and cheeses cut to order. Perhaps some baked goods like rolls and bagels. We all miss our rotisseries chickens, too.
• Holiday recognition of foods purchased during the holidays seasons — Passover, Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and all other holidays. Please include kosher foods as well.
• A full line of pet foods so our cats and dogs will not go hungry, personal care items in brand names that we recognize, laundry supplies and medications, batteries and other household items — all were sold at the former Key Food.
• Neighborhood jobs inside the store, people of all ethnic backgrounds and bilingual help inside to assist customers. We are a diverse community and this should be reflected in the store.
• A staff that says “hi” and “thank you.”
• A recycling center to return deposit cans and bottles.
We also asked for delivery services for a nominal fee, just like they offered in the former Key Food.
We will let the community decide about the selling of fruits on the sidewalk. Chen has agreed that if the area does not like it, he will consider bringing the stands inside the store. As far as the deli goes, he said he needs to look into it and consult with specialty people to try and work out the logistics. I suggested he contact the former owner of Key Food for advice, as Key Food has a really good deli with a large selection of products. I did not get a feeling of complete agreement, but I will continue to fight for this, as it is something that we really miss.
After discussing all of these requests, I wish I could tell you that he agreed to everything and that we will all live happily ever after. This was not the case. Two of the main sticking points are all the fruits being sold on the sidewalk and the important deli department.
We did raise the request of the store to take coupons, as they are helpful to consumers at this time more than any other. This, too, remains to be seen.
A request was made to have Chen sign all the items he agrees to. The only ones he left in question were coupons, the deli and possible parking. I will try hard to hold him to this agreement.
Overall, do I think we will get what we want? Probably not. From what I have seen in the neighborhood regarding Asian markets, we will probably get a token aisle or two to call our own — certainly not the quantity of selection we are used to.
Chen, prove me wrong. Make the neighborhood happy and we in turn will help to make your business a profitable one.
I want to thank Meng for all her hard work in setting up the meeting. Thanks to Stavisky for giving us her insight and time. Meng and myself are trying to set up a meeting with City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Chen to continue our discussion about the store.
There is no date at this time. As they say, to be continued.
Mary Ann Boroz
©2010 Community News Group
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