Neighbor to Neighbor: Big chain stores playing ‘Musical Chairs’ with us

By Barbara Morris

In a previous column, I wrote about the ease with which unethical people can snag private information from you, such as your Social Security number or credit card number. They are very actively looking to take your place, if only temporarily. It is sort of like Musical Chairs, only not any fun at all.

Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens are going through their own version of that old game. Businesses here are struggling as they are in many other places, including our neighbors in Valley Stream and Elmont. Within easy access, we now have three big Home Depot stores. They don’t only complete against local hardware stores — they compete against each other.

Laurelton’s long-time hardware store, Zickerman’s, will close by the end of September, said Mark Zickerman, the store’s last owner. Mark told his dad and mom, who had watched Mark grow up, marry, have children and now a new grandson. Even when I called our friend Ruth Sneeberg, who had moved back to her old hometown in Pennsylvania some years ago, groaned when I told her about the closing. “You can’t imagine how much I miss Mark and his store,” she said. “Mark had every thing and was always willing to fix my shopping cart for me. I will always miss Mark.”

Mark and his good wife are unhappy about leaving because lately business has been slow, and when a six-day-per-week business is slow and there have been many six-day work weeks behind you, visions of a better life start dancing around in your head — especially then there is a new grandson waiting to be cuddled!

We certainly wish them a long, healthy and happy life. We hope they will remember that those of us do-it-yourselfers — along with those who may have needed odds and ends only once in a while — appreciated having them there and giving us old-time bargains at street fairs. I particularly appreciated having Mark lend to me one of his Dad’s old sale catalogues. What a difference in the prices now from then!

Now where do all his employees go? When Pathmark and Walgreen’s moved in with their big time pharmacies and Duane Read bought out Kenny Lane’s and Michael Rogoff’s Marder’s Pharmacy, most of their employees drifted away. Now Duane Reade has also bought out Rosedale’s Parkway Pharmacy, another company competing against itself. I, for one, don’t understand that philosophy.

After Home Depot opened in Springfield Gardens, I went to the Home Depot in Green Acres to see if the new store had made any impact on the older store. All the former long lines of waiting customers had disappeared. Good for Springfield Gardens and New York City, at least for now, but bad for our neighbors in Valley Stream.

The nature of that kind of competition sometimes leaves me uncomfortable. I was one of those who tried to support Bowrey’s Pharmacy’s position in our community when Pathmark and Walgreen’s were looming nearby. Ian Bowrey stayed here through that terrible period of crime, and even bought out a “problem business” to expand his store. Now, he too, is ready to take a new place — luckily, here in town in the beautiful, new Laurelton Medical Center.

We wish him and his many employees well, as we wish all the other hard-working, honest people. We’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go over the years: Sharry’s Bakery, Twin Ponds Bakery, Spielberg’s Delicatessen, to name just a few.

We still miss them.

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