Residents React to Malverne General Store Proposal

Request presented to village board for vacant supermarket.

“I really want the village to be vibrant and ... that store to be full, but I’m really having a hard time with a 99-cent type store,” stated Malverne resident Tom Grech. “It seems like shlock and junk."

Grech was one of more than 30 residents who filled Village Hall Thursday night to learn more about the future of the vacant supermarket located in Malverne’s downtown.

Three different supermarket chains have tried to succeed at the 344 Hempstead Ave. property in recent years, but all have failed.

“A supermarket is not going to work here,” Grech added. “The people voted with their feet. They did not support [them.]” 

Deputy Mayor Joseph Hennessy explained that the village also reached out to Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kings, King Kullen, and Wild by Nature, asking them to come to Malverne, but the property did not meet any of their needs. 

Now, the landlord, Tammy Teller, of Bellrex Associates, whose family has owned the property since the 1970s, is hoping to try something new. She submitted an application to the Malverne village board to change the designated use of the building from a “supermarket” to a “general market,” a switch that requires the board to grant a special exception.

Teller already has a new tenant ready to move in should the village grant the permit. Business partners Eddie Marinelli, Angelo Giannuzzi and Naeem Baig have agreed to sign a 15-year lease for the 9,000 sq. ft. property if they are allowed to open a discount variety store there.

The Malverne General Store, as it would be called, would carry more than 5,000 “brand-name staple products and high-end close-out merchandise” including home décor, bathroom, kitchen and auto accessories, toys, stationary, school supplies, hardware, apparel, baby goods, cleaning, pet and party supplies, seasonal items, cosmetics, gift wrap, snacks and drinks including milk and juice. No prepared food, alcohol or lottery tickets would be sold here.

The store would be laid out with aisles organized by departments, similar to a grocery store. The cash registers, shelving and a small portion of the refrigeration currently in place would stay, and there would be limited signage and product placement in the windows.

"We are trying to stay as close to the supermarket concept for the town, but without the perishables," Teller stated, explaining they were the Achilles' heel of the last tenant.

The three men own three other discount shops in North Bellmore, Bellerose and Cambria Heights. The first one opened more than 20 years ago.

“We don’t have any inventory in the aisles,” Marinelli said of the three existing stores. “You can walk through, you can almost take your shoes off in our stores. They are neat and organized, and that’s what separates us from a typical 99-cent store.” 

As they passed around photos of their three other shops, they stressed that the merchandise carried at the Malverne store would be “more high-end,” catering to the village and its residents. 

“If we were going to do a 99-cent store, we wouldn't come to Malverne … and that’s a compliment,” said Marinelli, who also owns two restaurants, including one in his hometown of Port Washington.

He said the stores would emulate Amazing Savings, which can be found throughout New York and New Jersey. Marinelli also assured residents that the store’s products would be ones customers know and trust – brands like Colgate, L’Oreal, Duracell, and Rubbermaid -- and the inventory would be consistent each time they visit. A manager would run the store under the supervision of Baig, who lives in Woodmere, and efforts would be made to hire village residents. 

Residents expressed apprehension toward the concept, although atleast three women did support the idea, saying they missed the convenience of having a place within walking distance from their home to buy staples like milk, bread and laundry detergent. However, the appearance was a concern.

"It's a good idea for the village, but I think you have to listen .. we don't want it to look like a discount store," Diane McDermott said. "We are proud of our town." 

One resident asked village officials what recourse would they have if the store did not live up to expectations. The business would have to comply with the village's codes, but as Trustee Jack O'Brien put it, "if our residents do not like the place, they are not going to come."

"The only way this is going to work is if we do whatever everybody likes," Marinelli added. "Without everybody's support, I'm going to give back the keys in six months and that's not what I want to do." 

The board unanimously voted to reserve its decision on the matter, informing the landlord that she would be contacted in a reasonable amount of time with their answer. 

What do you think of the Malverne General Store concept? Share your thoughts in the comment sections below.

Arena January 19, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Lets face it - a grocery store will never work - it was tried many times and failed miserably. Perhaps we should give this idea of a "general market" a chance, it may or may not be successful but it's worth a try.
Christian Gourdin January 19, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Very disappointed that this conversation is even happening. These guys sound like business professionals and they will fill a void in the village landscape and tax roll. Why are people not able to accept this as something good for the community and move on. How many empty storefronts are we willing to look at? The empty spaces don't do any justice to the community! And so what if outsiders come to shop in Malverne! Get real! If you don't want others shopping in Malverne let's build a giant wall around the city and not let anyone in! Are we really living in the dark ages!?
jonathan winant January 19, 2013 at 04:26 PM
I am from Port Washington and we have a similar problem. We have a massive store for rent neither Staples, or other office supply companies are interested not are Old Navy, Gap all types of businesses we need. I know Malverne very well and in this economically challenging times it's better to accept a business willing to fill a vacant store front. Empty store front do nothing for property costs or to make the community look appealing. Best bit is massive campaign contacting those types of businesses which residents feel can fill this smaller store and still be vital in the community. Good luck
jonathan winant January 19, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Businesses do not stay long or flourish if the bulk of the residents avoid shopping there especially moreso in this hard economy.
jonathan winant January 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Change comes about when residents start and keep complaining so your on the right track. Malverne used to be a great place Baskin and Robbins, Bowling, movies all opened on Sunday's and of course the LIRR ran seven days a week.
KC January 19, 2013 at 05:15 PM
I would love to see a supermarket here, but it would have to offer more. Things like a fish department, an expanded deli department and prepared meals. I see these in other supermarkets, so why not here?
jonathan winant January 19, 2013 at 05:43 PM
The problem is limited space most supermarkets are just that SUPER markets. The closest market is Pathmark which I hated when I lived in Elmont and Valley Stream. Great fish go to the asian market on front street in Village of Hempstead. it's worth the trip. Write to some of the companies which you feel might be interested in opening in Malverne then get a pettiton going to show the commuities response.
Mrs. Malverne January 19, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Why be so concerned about the character of this "market".....Malverne is slowly eroding into a dreary, congested, corridor for cars to pass through to Lynbrook or West Hempstead. The property values have declined and the "curb appeal" of many of the houses are dismal. Franklin Avenue is an eyesore. Gone are the "Mayberry" days and the days the Village had charm and personality, and efficient government management. Let it RIP. There are nicer communities to invest in a property purchase or establish a business.....
jonathan winant January 19, 2013 at 09:01 PM
You said it thats why we moved to Port Washington to escape the traffic of Hempstead Turnpike and the rising crime rate in Valley Stream and worst Elmont. Still for those who live in Malverne try to turn things around
Tom Grech January 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM
You are some charmer.
Suzanne Kraemer-Parra January 19, 2013 at 11:55 PM
You must have some pride in this Village as you refer to yourself as "Mrs. Malverne". As you do not want to speak under your given name, I can only assume that you are someone willing to sit on the sidelines and complain about the state of your town as opposed to someone who stands up and fights for it. Imagine what we could be if everyone channelled the negative energy used to post such unappealing rhetoric into volunteering for this community. I am happy to say I moved into "Mayberry", I still live in "Mayberry" and give everything I have to the preservation of it's small town charm and appeal. From here on out, I am taking over the title of "Mrs. Malverne"!
Mrs. Malverne January 20, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Well Suzanne ~ As you have been involved with the Civic Association.... I have to ask, what exactely did I say that was not true. Painful to hear maybe. You're no "Mrs. Malverne". I've lived in this village before you were born.... face up to the facts and don't sugar coat it. Malverne is declining and the village and my property value is too, but not the taxes ! they're increasing...... a "Market" in the Village is the least of the problems.
Tom Grech January 20, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Here's what you said: I am a miserable person who can't offer any suggestions that are remotely positive.Even though I take shots at the issue, I probably didn't shop at Associated very much. Unlike many long time residents who are involved and try to make the Village a better place, I don't. By saying RIP, you insult every person and every effort made by the hundreds of folks who live here, raise their families and volunteer their time. Please post when your house is for sale; I know a bunch of folks young and old, looking to move here!
maryHP January 20, 2013 at 04:04 PM
I'm not opposed to the General Market concept, but I do worry about the impact on Mike's Stationery Store and Nordon Drugs. This option sounds like a mini version of National Wholesale Liquidators, which btw - is located down the road in West Hempstead. Does anyone know what's happening on the other side of the movie theatre? Vacant store for years now....Im guessing the proposed restaurant is a 'no go'
Tara Conry (Editor) January 20, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Mary: The village board approved the restaurant but the developers backed out.
Pat January 20, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Businesses that are interested in filling vacant storefronts should be encouraged. Has anyone visited the other locations mentioned ? And for goodness sake stop the sniping.
incognito2u January 21, 2013 at 01:41 AM
The "Bastardization" of Malverne.......I guess the Board wants this Village to look like QUEENS!!!!.Have any of you seen the "Dollar Store" in Franklin square on Franklin Ave???? That place is a zoo (When they are opened, not including when the store closes for "Prayer" at noon)........WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS GREAT VILLAGE OF MINE!!!!!!!!!!! you mean to tell me that NOTHING else was proposed that would be a better choice??
John January 21, 2013 at 01:53 PM
A grocery store will never work? We used to have two food markets on the same block! Bohacks and Associated...and they did just fine for decades. We absolutely need at least one market, and a good owner with a good business model will succeed here. The last two owners tried to run it like they were in the Bronx. It's really not hard to figure out that people need fresh vegetables and good meat at prices comparable to other grocery stores. As far as this general store or dollar store or whatever it is--I say not at this location. Perhaps not even in this town at all. We don't need any more out of town shoppers, especially from Lakeview. You want this area looking like N. Village Ave. in Rockville Center? I work over there, and believe me, you don't. When perspective renters say the building doesn't meet their needs,what they mean is the $15,000.00 per month rent is to high. I believe that is the amount. This, at least makes sense: if you know you won't make a profit selling your products, then you don't belong here.
BARBARA KELLY January 21, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Before passing judgement, we should go look at the other stores operated by this group. John, I don't see what is wrong with people from out-of-town. The Malverne theater could not survive without them. Shoppers spend money and support our business community, no matter where they are from - even shoppers from Lakeview. supporting the businesses here. And why are Lakeview residents "especially" unwanted? Please refrain from personal attacks. If someone writes an angry rant, just ignore it. Responding just encourages more of the same.
jonathan winant January 21, 2013 at 03:23 PM
The bottom line for any community is that in this challenging economy far to many stores are vacant. The effects on a community can be serious. Sometimes placing judgment on the type of business the that coomunity wants might keep the store vacant. It's better to fill vacancies. The other option is to encourage town boards, civic groups or any other community groups to gather support for types of buisnesses they want and then with numbers try to convince them to look into moving in. Someone mentioned better fish and meats then go to businesses that do that type of business and let them know whats available in Malverne. Get petitions filled so that you have numbers which only help the cause. Blog, Blog Blog is just the start but Blogs allone will not do the job.
Kal Gullapalli January 21, 2013 at 03:44 PM
As owner of Malverne Prime Meats, I'd like to offer the perspective of a local merchant. We were not hurt when Associated closed but we did have to go elsewhere for our groceries for home. We liked the old owners but as we all know, they couldn't survive. We were approached to take over the store and while I was excited about the opportunity to transform it into a Uncle Giuseppe's or Citarella, the math did not work. The rent and the limited parking inhibited us from taking the gamble. I believe that the businesses that have already declined the space felt the same way. I was unable to attend the meeting last week but I have been keeping up with all the updates. It seems to me that these guys are seasoned operators and are looking to create something that will be beneficial to the community. If they don't create what they proposed, the community will talk with their wallets. I believe we should give them a shot because there are not many operators that can make the space work and now that we found someone that may be able to create a viable business, we should jump on it and embrace them. Just my two cents...
Arena January 21, 2013 at 04:24 PM
How about a Mark Fore Strike, Gucci or Coach???????
Jason January 21, 2013 at 05:47 PM
You guys are all dreaming..........Each time we lose a merchant we can look forward to either a small mom and pop store or nothing at all. Unless school and police salaries are checked we will continue to decay in this area. Noone can pay the taxes and make a profit w/o an enterprise that guarantees decent revenue. Those past days are gone where we can attract merchants of the same caliper. Look at all other communities, RVC, Lynbrook etc etc. Now Simple Pleasures in Lynbrook is closing their doors, adding to their mt store woes?
jonathan winant January 21, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Your two cents adds up to a dollar! People should pay attention to your comment. Residents do not understand that ANY business trying to make it work should be given a chance because many would have looked at the situation as you did. Maybe more business owners should start to comment. I've lived in Elmont, Port Washington which have many vacant stores and the major discouraging factor is Not enough parking. Big grocery stores are just big stores with chains that keep growing in size. Associated seems to have always been a chain with small stores offering a limit variety of brands. The often cater to ethnic groups as does the Valley Stream store which is tiny but survived. Malverne residents might be expecting too much or even the impossoble.
Heidi January 21, 2013 at 06:28 PM
What a horrible idea! It would be the death-knell for a community that once prided itself on its small town appeal. In addition, Rockville Centre’s “hamlet" – you know, those same community members who so many of you don't want your children educated with - will now come into the center of Malverne to shop. I don't understand how anyone in their right mind would support a trash and grab.
jonathan winant January 21, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Keep dreaming your not ever going to get that type of business to open in Malverne because of the neighboring communities. Terrible thing to say but it's reality. As Kal stated Parking is a big issue. This is probably the big draw back for many businesses. Places like Baskin and Robbins., and stores where patrons do not stay long would work beter with the lack of adequate parking.
jonathan winant January 21, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Stop all the belly aching and get off your butts and make it happen!! Complain on line all you want it will not do a blessed thing. Action, Action, Action, My suggestions are, contact evry concievable business organization with details of vacant properties. Include Details of rent space parking neighboring stores and residential income (average). What hours are other store operating etc. Canvase the are and get residents opinions of what types of stores or businesses they feel Malverne needs. Then get as many people as posdsible to write to corporate offices with rental information try to work with the property owner or rental agent to find out who has previus looked at and turned down the property. Do your homework and get every civic association to work their butts off. Otherwisde sit home have a drink and complain because little else will be accomplished. I have fought government and got somewhere I made many of the recommendations concerning Hempstead Turnpike long before Newsday even thought of starting their review. I had something changed for the better over ten years ago. Send in pictures of the vacant properties so they can be seen in news publications. Good luck to all who might find it important enough to wage a battle.
soylent green January 22, 2013 at 01:09 AM
the reasons why the last few markets haven't made it there are numerous. For instance, they were visibly dirty, they practiced "bait and switch", they had pre- packaged produce and no butcher to order from in the store. We need a market in that place or in the Wonder Color site. What is the problem? The rent is too high? Since the owner of the property wants to "help" fill the site, maybe she can drop the rent a few thousand until we can attract a decent food purveyor. The idea from Malverne prime meats would be fabulous.. How can we help him look into this again?
Steve McNally February 02, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Interesting, informed perspective on the matter, Kal -- thank you. I'm not sure if I agree that "something is better than nothing," but that may be more emotional than logical, fiscal thinking. Thanks, also, to Tara Conry for her coverage and follow-up. I no longer live here but have family that still does and I'm very interested in the village's continued well-being. As Jonathan W and others note, speaking up, reaching out to Maverne officials and Merchants' orgs, and making realistic tenant suggestions will be more constructive than armchair griping. It's good to know of the outreach already to Trader Joe's et al -- have there been any follow-ups or counter-offers? Best Yet and Cross Island Fruits succeed without much more space. The area supports the great theater and Antonio's Deli -- there's got to be something workable in Associated's space.
jonathan winant February 03, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Your type of thinking is what is needed. People have to speak to businesses or even call the broker or property owner and tell them that they want the property rented and not vacant and try to convince the owner or broker to make renting the property more desireable. Times are tough maybe a lower rent for one year?


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