Three small businesses that relied on foot traffic from a shuttered supermarket on Nostrand Avenue have closed their doors since the grocery store went under, joining a growing list of vacancies on the once-busy Sheepshead Bay strip.
The domino effect took down a pair of hair salons and a shoe repair one block from the vacant Pathmark, which anchored a strip mall between Avenues Y and Z before closing in April.
“A big supermarket like that brings people to the neighborhood,” said Steve Blackburn, a partner at Premiere Properties, which is working to land a new grocery store for the site. “People aren’t buying as much” at other stores as a result, he said.
The slowdown has also spelled trouble for several businesses that closed in the year before Pathmark’s collapse, according to Robert Altschuler, a real estate broker who represents two vacant stores that sit directly across from the empty supermarket.
Property owners “just don’t know what’s coming in,” he said. “Nobody wants to pull the trigger.”
In one encouraging sign, the discount chain Family Dollar agreed www.sheepsheadbites.com/2011/08/family-dollar-to-replace-nostrand-ave-dee-dee/ to take over a vacant store across from the Pathmark.
But residents and nearby stores still open for business remain concerned that the trend of closings will continue unless the Pathmark is replaced soon.
“It’s been a downward trend,” said Cliff Bruckenstein, a member of Community Board 15 and lifelong Sheepshead Bay resident who shopped at the Pathmark. “Traffic is definitely less than it has been in the past.”
Viktor Bunin said business has lagged at Rainbow Shops, next door to the Pathmark.
“Our clothing sales are down” since the supermarket closed, said Bunin, the store’s manager.
The Pathmark replaced a Waldbaum’s supermarket that went out of business in 2002.
Its closure drew outrage from local shoppers who now have to schlep 15 blocks away to the nearest supermarket, and vows from elected officials to bring another grocery store to the site.
Blackburn said a handful of supermarkets are looking into the site, which is owned by Lefrak Organization.
Lefrak did not return a request for comment.
CB15 District Manager Pearl Burg said a decision could be made “before the end of the year.”
“Every strip mall needs an anchor,” Burg said.
Choosing the right fit could be tricky, however, given the site’s bad history with supermarkets.
A small-sized Walmart has been floated, but the idea was panned by pols who say the company’s policies are anti-union.
Shoppers disagreed over what kind of store they’d like for the site — though nearly everyone we spoke with wanted a supermarket.
“We want Walmart,” said Michael Harris, a Sheepshead Bay resident. “Walmart would employ a lot of people.”
Marjorie Flicker, who shops on Nostrand Avenue, said she wants something more upscale.
“I’d like to see a Whole Foods,” Flicker said. “They have nice, fresh organic produce.”