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Retailing on the Edge

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment
From The NY Times:
N.Y. / Region
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
Published: November 12, 2010
Some residents lament the arrival of Duane Reade and Starbucks in Williamsburg’s main shopping district.

Homefront on Austin

Sounds to me like the Williamsburg folks are getting a bit ahead of themselves. If they want to see a good example of how chains came into a charming neighborhood loaded with independent stores and the two have learned to live nicely side-by-side they should journey on down to Park Slope.

Here in FoHi? Not so much. I think Austin is heavily outweighed by retail chains. And the independents we do have tend to be cell phone stores, hair salons, women’s clothing boutiques and optical stores. We can use some more quaint, creative independent shops in town. I always point to Homefront as an example of a charming little independent that gives Forest Hills that little special something.

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Retailing it in Rego

November 8, 2010 5 comments

Finally ventured over to the relatively new Rego Center this weekend to take a look and actually do a bit of shopping. I know I am rather late in giving this new mall which opened some time ago some blog attention, but what can I say? I haven’t had a chance ’til now!

Overall, I really like it – especially the Century 21 perched at the very top. This is a much better version of the original one downtown in Manhattan. It is much more spacious, sparklingly new of course, and free of millions of European tourists elbowing with you for that last decent-looking $10 dress shirt. What more could you want?

The subterranean CostCo is also a sight to behold. It is enormous, as CostCo’s tend to be. But as I debated signing up for the $50 membership, I couldn’t help repeating to myself: “But will I really ever buy any of this stuff?” Maybe a 10-pack of paper towels, yes. But a 4-box set of Cheerios? I gave that stuff up a long time ago for the natural varieties anyway, I ain’t going to be switching back now just because I can get it in bulk.

My sci-fi-geared mind also couldn’t help thinking of the next Stephen King novel – Does CostCo realize it has built perhaps the largest bomb shelter ever? Food and water to last years? Check! Deep underground? Check. Endless amounts of clothing? Check! An endless supply of DVD’s? Check! Oh, and plenty of aspirin and other drugs too. You really could live there forever if you had to.

Free Eggs !

November 3, 2010 3 comments

Well, almost. Our newest natural food store, Greenline Organic, on Austin St., is giving away a box of eggs with any purchase of $12 or more. One of the employees told me this promotion will last another month or so, as long as supplies last. So if you’re into eggs, and haven’t paid a visit to this attractive new organic store, now is the perfect time!

Chic No More

November 3, 2010 1 comment

Sadly, the cute little purveyor of make-your-own salads, tasty soups and supposedly free wi-fi, Chic & Green, near the corner of Queens Blvd. and 72nd Road, has called it quits. A visit to the place this afternoon revealed quite a sad and lonely little empty storefront where all that healthy fare used to be doled out of. This is disappointing, as Forest Hills most desperately needs a make-your-own salad place! We are like one of the only neighborhoods in New York City without one now. What is so hard about this? Chic’s biggest problem no doubt was its location. 72nd Road is not the most well-traversed part of our shopping district and a salad and soup place needs heavy foot traffic for its food to stay fresh. It would be nice if Chic reopened somewhere else in town.

Is Queens the New Brooklyn?

October 21, 2010 3 comments

Show me the development! This corner was supposed to be developed into a new condo/shopping center. What happened?

I read the AM New York article from yesterday “Is Queens going Brooklyn?” There were many interesting points raised by it and I hope to come back to it in later posts. But one comment in there really had me baffled:

From the Q&A portion with Queens borough historian Jack Eichenbaum:

What neighborhoods are prime for development?

[It’s] already happened in Astoria and Forest Hills, and it could happen more in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Flushing.

Huh? Just what development is Mr. Eichenbaum referring to? The Windsor? From what I can see, Forest Hills hasn’t had any new significant “development” aside from the Windsor building in a loooong time. Am I missing something?

This especially irks me because that is exactly what our neighborhood could use — new development! How about starting with the dilapidated storefronts along Queens Blvd. heading towards Kew Gardens?

As discussed yesterday on this blog, the hotel planned for Austin St. never materialized – and that sounded like a very exciting project for our shopping district, just the type of new development we need here. And I am intrigued by the Marriott proposal in the Daily News yesterday – as long as it incorporates the historic stadium and allows public use in some way.

But Mr. Eichenbaum, if you are out there reading this, I’d love to know what development you are referring to here in Forest Hills. This is vitally important. Aside from a few creative retailers, in case you haven’t noticed, Austin Street doesn’t have much spark these days. A lot of bland or tired looking businesses, some of which seem stuck in a time warp (I can think of one or two diners in particular, and the food they serve seems to have been sitting around for ages as well).

Just walk through some of the fantastic neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan and you will see what I mean. There’s so much room to do soooo much better here.

Organic Competition Heats Up

October 17, 2010 1 comment

I stopped into the new Greenline Organic store on Austin today. As I walked inside I heard one lady exclaim: “Our neighborhood needs more places like this!” And that about sums up my impression too. I think it’s a charming addition to our local food shopping choices here in Forest Hills.

The first thing I noticed is the store is very upscale-looking, and it overflows with a very attractive arrangement of produce onto the sidewalk in front.

The store has everything you’d expect from an organic market, and everything they stock looks very fresh. I noticed they have some meats and salads like chicken salad and tuna also.

I’m not going to complain, but I have to point out that the store may test your shopping patience a bit! As you head to the back where the store splits into two sections, one for veggies and one for dairy, there is room for only one person at a time to fit into those spaces, unless you are thin as a rail. But like I said—as I munch on the delicious red grapes I bought from the place today—I am not going to complain. We definitely can use more stores that are as inviting and pleasing as this in Forest Hills.

Speaking of the grapes I bought, they cost me $3.38 for the bag. I also bought a couple of apples which together came out to 83 cents. I also bought a box of organic tea for $3.39 (the same box is priced $4.99 at Natural).

So there you have my report from my brief sojourn into our new organic store here in The Hills. I am interested in hearing your impressions as well, so feel free to share them below. Also see the previous post about this store for more info on it, including another detailed review of one shopper’s experience there.

Open 24 Hours

October 16, 2010 1 comment

Just  a quick FYI — the new Greenline Organic store on Austin St., which opened today, is open 24 hours, according to one reader who stopped by there already. I will pay it a visit this weekend to check it out and then post my impressions.

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