By Phil Corso
Seth Fiddle was visiting the Astoria Federal Savings bank right outside his job when he said he realized he was getting tired of the rumors.
The managing partner of Flushing’s Garden World overheard there that some customers believed his store would be changing ownership or closing.
“I just want people to realize that we are not going anywhere,” Fiddle said. “Things around us might be changing, but we are not.”
Fiddle said speculation over the one-stop gardening supermarket near the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 46th Avenue accelerated when customers heard that its next door neighbor Waldbaum’s was closing its doors this summer.
He said once consumers got word of the incoming Korean cuisine supermarket H Mart as the grocery store’s replacement, some thought Garden World would also be headed for a shake-up in ownership or shutdown.
“It isn’t good to have rumors like that going around,” Fiddle said. “It affects a lot. If I thought a place was going out of business, what is the use of a guarantee on something like a shrub purchase?”
Garden World, a tenant of the property that also includes Astoria bank and Waldbaum’s, has a long history in the Bayside and Flushing area. The store holds a lease through 2030 on the property.
Since opening in 1950, Managing Partner Chris Leicht said the surrounding buildings have seen several transformations.
“Gas stations have turned into banks. Stores have changed hands. But Garden World has always been here,” Leicht said. “If you want to talk about continuity, the neighborhood may have changed but we have not.”
Fiddle and Leicht have been partners in managing Garden World for 20 years, and Leicht said the community shop has remained consistent in its service quality.
Garden World is open year-round and transforms its product selections as the seasons change, with specials unique to different times of the year.
“People come here from all over the city and Long Island because for many of them, they are revisiting their childhood,” Leicht said. “They may have come as kids to pick their Christmas trees or on Halloween to buy a pumpkin. We have always been there for them.”
Fiddle said he hoped to make it clear to all loyal Garden World shoppers that no matter what kinds of changes in buildings or shopping demographics pass through the property, their community gardening super store will be staying the same.
“None of this development is affecting our property in any way,” Fiddle said. “It has always been us and it always will be us.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.