Good Fortune, an Asian supermarket, is “coming soon,” according to a bilingual sign above what had been the Key Food at 25-03 Parsons Blvd. The store will open in mid-May, according to Quanguo Yang, the owner of the Maspeth-based chain.
When the Key Food closed its doors last June, community members were left without access to staple food products. There are no other traditional American supermarkets nearby, but there are several other Asian markets, including an H-Mart on Union Street.
Community Board 7 has heard from residents upset about the change, according to District Manager Marilyn Bitterman. “The owner is putting in an Asian supermarket and the community isn’t happy,” Bitterman said. “We want a full-service American supermarket with American products.”
Yang said Good Fortune sells most American brands, including canned foods and breads.
“We sell groceries like any other supermarket,” Yang said. “We sell fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, and we specialize in live fish and fresh produce.”
While the inside is under construction, residents are, however, skeptical about the types of products the new store will have.
“We’re waiting to see; we don’t know how much American food they’re going to carry,” Arlene Fleishman, the president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association, said.
Fleishman said that she, as well as other longtime residents, have to travel elsewhere to get the products they prefer.
“There has been no access to healthy food in the community for a long time,” Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said. “The void for a mainstream market is the main source of complaints.”
Stan Yellen, a resident of the area for 40 years, said he hopes Good Fortune will have American products like milk, eggs, and cheese.
“The property owners had committed to making sure the new supermarket services the entire community, not one specific demographic,” John Choe, the director of the business group One Flushing, said.
John Ingrassia, the owner of Lana Terrace Realty, said his firm had hired a broker, who brought them several offers, and Lana Terrace then “weighed which one was going to work out best for the center.”
Ingrassia said that he was aware of the residents’ concerns, but he was reassured the store will serve a variety of international products.
“If they do all right by us, I don’t care who they are,” said a resident and employee at the Whitestone Bakery who would only identify herself as Joann. “If they carry American stuff, not just cater to their kind, then I’m OK. They should be reasonable and cater to everyone. There’s plenty of room.”
Resident Margaret Zollner’s main concern is the language of the food labels and signs, because other Asian markets in the area often carry items without English labels.
“I can’t really picture them carrying what Key Food carried,” Zollner said.
Many area residents are seniors, with limited mobility and transportation options.
Kim said that he’s heard “horrible stories” about seniors walking long distances to buy food and having trouble getting home.
“My mother used to come here three or four times a week. Now the poor lady has to shop every two months and she has to take a cab,” Joann said.
Nancy Shaller, an elderly resident, said that she misses the convenience of buying everything in one place at Key Food. Now she buys some food at Target, some at other supermarkets and paper towels at Raindew.
“It’s one store for this, another store for that,” she said.
According to Kim, better communication could have saved the Key Food, which went out of business due to a dispute with the property owner over its lease. The state and city could have subsidized Key Food’s costs to keep it in the area, Kim said.
The lawmaker plans to facilitate communication between Good Fortune and area civic associations and senior centers so that the new store’s owners can understand the needs of the community and stock popular products.
“We want the new owner to have a very community-focused approach and be willing to do some outreach,” Kim said. “There is a tremendous opportunity for the supermarket to do well.”