By Lillian Rizzo
The closure of a Pathmark in Sheepshead Bay raises a serious question beyond where to shop: what becomes of the businesses next door?
The Atlantic and Pacific Company announced in mid-February that the Nostrand Avenue’s Pathmark would be one of the 31 stores nation-wide to close since the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December. Local politicians spoke out about the closure, trying to prevent it from happening, and then trying to find a quick replacement supermarket.
This Pathmark not only serves as a grocery store for the neighborhood, it is also the cornerstone of its shopping district. It has become the obvious main attraction to the street between Avenues Y and Z.
“Well before Pathmark came,” said Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), “for a number of years that entire strip along Nostrand Avenue was virtually dead.” Kruger points out that because a large senior citizen population lives near Nostrand, the presence of a supermarket in walking distance adds vitality to the block. The nearest supermarket will now be a mile away. Kruger says that the Pathmark generated more foot traffic to neighboring stores such as Party City and the Kouros Bay Diner. He and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) are working to replace the closed Pathmark with another supermarket as quickly as possible.
But the loss of an anchor store doesn’t necessarily mean bad news from surrounding merchants. Professor Donald Davis of the economics department at Columbia University says there is never a simple answer. Davis says people believe everyone will “either be benefited or everyone is hurt,” but the answer is not black and white.
Davis also mentioned the opposite scenario: when a chain store moves into a neighborhood for the first time. He says this causes a similar reaction to Pathmark leaving Sheepshead Bay: people automatically fear local businesses will be hurt. Except in this case the store is unwanted because it becomes the competitor of local grocery stores.
Ira Davidson, the director of the Small Business Development Center at Pace University and a Bergen Beach resident, feels the loss of Pathmark is not necessarily bad for the neighborhood. Familiar with the shopping area, he believes it is unlikely the property will remain vacant.
“It’s still a thriving thoroughfare and there’s lots of commercial activity,” Davidson said of Nostrand Avenue. He suspects another supermarket will fill Pathmark’s place on Nostrand Avenue.
While Brooklyn politicians look to fill the void of Pathmark, Kruger admits that while residents are concerned about the loss of their supermarket, it will be a lengthy process to find a replacement. LeFrack Organization, the property owner of this site, expects a certain amount of dollars per square foot and Kruger says he knows the firm will not bend on a price. LeFrack did not reply to inquiries from The Brooklyn Ink regarding Pathmark’s property.
Kruger hopes that a smaller, cooperative supermarket will take the place of Pathmark. He says past experience shows that a store run by a major company does not do well in this location, including this Pathmark, which is being closed by A&P due to its low sales. For now, he has been reaching out to stores such as Key Food to fill Pathmark’s place.