Panic at the strip mall

Store owners in the strip mall where a Pathmark is about to go under are predicting the same for their small, mom-and-pop businesses if another large outlet doesn’t move in soon — and not all think a Walmart is the right fit.

“Almost half of this shopping center depends on that store!” said Connie’s Pizza owner Louis Sabino. “It’ll kill us when it closes.”

Store owners say the strip mall, which has 10 stores, including Rite Aid and Party City, on Nostrand Avenue between Avenue Y and Avenue X, is dependent on the foot traffic created by the supermarket. The owners of the mom-and-pops there say that Pathmark shoppers extend their visits to the strip mall by grabbing a slice at Connie’s, buying envelopes at Bay Gift and Stationery and picking up a bottle of red at Wine Village — after stocking up on groceries.

“Pathmark closing will absolutely hurt us,” said Wine Village owner Carole Saul. “People who do their grocery shopping come in here to pick up wine.”

Store owners are in agreement that a replacement for Pathmark is needed, but their opinions on what store should replace the supermarket are different.

Sabino said any major retail outlet with a loyal following would suffice and that he’d have no problem welcoming a Walmart to the area.

“Walmart would help the whole neighborhood,” Sabino said. “They have everything.”

But Wine Village’s Saul is passionately anti-Walmart, even though the big-box wouldn’t be allowed to sell wine and liquor, according to New York state law.

“Walmart looks to put everything out of business,” Saul said. “It’s terrible for mom and pops.”

Some say a Walmart couldn’t possibly open in the Pathmark space, as it is too small for the usually much larger big-box store. But the company has opened in even smaller locations, including one on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville that, at 3,500 square feet, is less than half the size of the average Rite-Aid or CVS.

Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo would not confirm that the company is interested in the Pathmark site.

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