The last remaining small stores along the Kissena Curve will be gone soon, replaced by an expanded kosher supermarket, likely reducing foot traffic on the street.
Aron’s Kissena Farms market has a Kissena Boulevard address, 72-15, but like the two megastores on the block, the recently opened Micro Center, an electronics firm, and National Wholesale Liquidators, the entrances are from the rear parking lot only.
The shopping area is between 71st and 72nd avenues. And even now there are few pedestrians walking along the east side of the street.
Merchants say the development’s owner has refused to give new leases to two well-established stores and they will be closing soon. Jasmine Health Foods at 72-09 Kissena Blvd. is winding up its business in a few days. Cards and Gifts at 72-05 Kissena Blvd. will finish within the month.
The owner of the health food store did not want his name used, but said, “They are forcing us out after 20 years. Is that fair?”
During a visit there, customers came in seeking fresh nuts, dates, sweets and other products from bins. They will have to go elsewhere soon.
The curve already has three empty stores and a barber shop, which is moving nearby. It is believed Kissena Farms is taking up the space of all five stores, with the barber shop staying in the immediate area. Calls to Kissena Farms were not returned.
Cards and Gifts has been owned by the same family for 35 years. Andy Patel, a relative of Bobo Patel, the store’s owner, said Monday that customers are not happy about it closing.
“They won’t give us another lease,” Andy Patel said. “We are not sure if we are going to move, but we are selling everything.”
Ken Cohen, president of the Flushing Suburban Civic Association, has been concerned about the future of the strip for some time. He bemoaned the loss of a Chinese takeout restaurant, laundromat, drug store and clothing store over the last few years.
It was hoped that the opening of Micro Center would bring more shoppers to the neighborhood, but Cohen said people park in the back, shop at the store and leave.
The only shop that opens onto Kissena is Valentino’s, a pizzeria-restaurant.
“This is truly the end of a neighborhood,” Cohen said. “There are no more mom-and- pop stores on the eastern side of Kissena.”
The owner of Jasmine’s said the landlord “is ruining the whole community” and the finished result will be “a boring scenario.”
Cohen, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1952, remembers when there were three supermarkets at one time; now there’s Kissena Farms and a nearby Associated.
He would like to see stores that the neighborhood needs and wants, but realizes that is not going to happen.
For years, the merchants have blamed problems on the absentee landlord, Pelcorp, a real estate company in Florida that is represented here by a property management firm in Rego Park.
Last year, when the Great Wall Kitchen II Chinese restaurant closed, the owner’s daughter, Winnie Chan, sent a message to the Chronicle.
“The landlord is unreachable and we’ve had no lease for about eight years,” Chan wrote, adding that other merchants can either close their businesses or pay high rent.
Cards and Gifts workers agreed. “It’s hard to reach the landlord and we wanted to put in a little deli in the back, but he said no,” one employee named Ashook said last fall.
Neither Pelcorp nor the area property management firm would comment.