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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.

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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