Little Neck Stop & Shop to close Oct. 14 1

Little Neck residents are not happy to see the Stop & Shop shut down because there are no other supermarkets in walking distance.

The Little Neck Stop & Shop will shut down operations sometime next month, but there are no plans for another supermarket to take its place.

The store told the Chronicle it will close permanently on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.

Customers had been confused over the supermarket’s closure, with many believing it would close the day before, and others unsure if it was actually going to shut down. A worker couldn’t even tell the Chronicle during a Sept. 21 visit when her last day would be.

“It’s really awful. We don’t really know what’s going on,” said Sharon Heaton, a Douglaston resident. “Everyone I know who lives here shops here.”

The 249-26 Northern Blvd. supermarket has operated since 2003 after it took over from Waldbaum’s.

Stop & Shop revealed in February that it planned to close the location because it wasn’t achieving its financial goals.

“Stop & Shop conducts reviews of its business performance on a regular basis, and this store was identified as underperforming relative to financial expectations,” a spokesperson told the Chronicle Tuesday.

Shoppers and residents were surprised that the location was not profitable, considering the relative neighborhood reliance on the supermarket.

Customers started a petition eight months ago protesting the closure. It has racked up 1,809 supporters during that time, with several signers adding their names to the list as recently as Sept. 22.

Lillian O’Connell, 86, worries how she’ll get her groceries once the Stop & Shop closes. She lives “up the block” from the store, and walks to purchase necessities, but doesn’t drive anymore.

The closest other supermarkets are the H-Mart in Great Neck, the Food Bazaar in Douglaston and the Stop & Shop in Bayside, which are 0.6, 1.5 and 3.3 miles from the Little Neck store, respectively.

“My daughter will take me. I know that. But that’s not her job. She’s busy enough,” O’Connell said. “I don’t need to bother her every time I run out of milk.”

Tony Avella, the Democratic nominee for City Council’s 19th District, said he tried persuading the supermarket’s corporate officials to stay at the location, but they seemed to have their mind made up to leave.

“I said to them, ‘There’s always something maybe we could work out,’” Avella said, pointing to lower property taxes or giving the owners a zoning change to expand the building.

Avella has been in talks with other supermarkets, including North Shore Farms and Met Fresh, in attempts to get another one into the storefront. The building is relatively small compared to typical supermarkets, so a major aspect of the search is finding a business willing to squeeze inside.

“Fresh vegetables, poultry, meats,” Avella said. “That’s a health issue. You have to have the ability to get food. So I’m going to do my best. It’s just a shame that Stop & Shop decided to pull out.”

The Little Neck location will continue to stock its items, the spokesperson for the store said. Empty shelves and missing items are most likely due to supply chain challenges due to labor and resource shortages from the pandemic, according to the chain, but not because the location is winding down operations.

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