Little Neck once again has a supermarket, as Jmart opened its doors at 249-26 Northern Blvd. July 3. But despite the immense anticipation and high attendance — both store and parking lot have been jammed — some opinions on the new business were mixed.
Jmart, which carries products from various Asian cuisines, has two other locations: one in Brooklyn and one at Downtown Flushing’s New World Mall.
Little Neck and Douglaston have been waiting for a new supermarket at the site since October 2021, when Stop & Shop closed its doors due to financial shortcomings. In March 2022, Councilmember Vickie Paladino (R-Whitestone) announced Jmart would occupy the spot, but did not say when it would open. In the meantime, many have shopped at Food Bazaar in Douglaston or Shop & Stop in Bay Terrace.
So last Monday, area residents went in droves to the Northern Boulevard store to see what they’d been waiting for. Among them was Douglaston resident Erwins Milord.
“The first thing I noticed was the parking lot was packed,” he told the Chronicle. “I got pretty lucky to get a spot.”
He noted that he was happy to find that there was enough room to move around at the store with a cart. Little Neck resident Alice Ng-Ng was similarly pleased.
“I can push my Vista stroller down and shopping carts can still pass by,” she wrote in a Facebook comment to the Chronicle.
Ng-Ng said in a subsequent message that her husband had gone, and was able to get some “great deals.”
“We loved the Stop & Shop that used to be there,” she added. “We’ve been going to Stop & Shop on Hillside and North Shore Farms. I’m just really thankful to have another store that’s closer to the Northern Blvd. area.”
Paladino applauded the opening in a statement. “I’m happy to see it’s now open and ready to serve the community,” she said.
But some said they were disappointed with the store, particularly with the selection.
“I observed that the store caters to the Asian community which is unfortunate because we are in desperate need of a supermarket in our area,” resident Geri Congemi-Opak wrote in a Facebook comment.
Several others chimed in with similar thoughts. “There are 2 other markets within 1 mile that cater to the Asian community,” wrote neighbor Popi Mamais. “We are a diverse community.”
Milord said his fellow shoppers are a diverse group. But many employees, he said, “seldom spoke any English.”
“In fact, I pulled out my Google Translate [app] at one point, just to point me in the direction of the beef and stuff,” he added.
Asked if he’d go back to the store, Milord said, “It depends on what I’m what I’m looking for — I found a few things, but not everything.” He added that because his son attends school nearby, he would likely find himself picking up some items at Jmart.
Tiffany Gong had similar thoughts.
“I would go for certain last minute needs — fruits, fish, meat, certain veggies, but it is annoying that I still have to make another trip to an American market to meet my needs,” she wrote in a Facebook comment.
Prices seem to run the gamut — while some said they bought vegetables and other staples for little money, others said they found it expensive. According to Congemi-Opak, it cost $11.49 to purchase a 30-ounce jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise.
Community Board 11 Chair Paul DiBenedetto noted that the area has an Asian-American-majority population these days, and that “people need to eat.”
“JMart will serve whatever community chooses to shop there,” he said in a message to the Chronicle.
“We do need food options in the community, so let’s hope this one can help to achieve that goal. If not, then let’s hope a better option arises.”
Though signage outside the store parking lot called the opening a “soft opening,” the meaning of that seems unclear; the store has welcomed customers every day since then. A Jmart employee told the Chronicle the July 3 opening was the supermarket’s official opening, and that there was not going to be another.