Location, location, location
Story by Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY February 5, 2013 - Anthony Rosario of Liberty says he hates grocery shopping. Though, he admits, “It’d be a far more pleasant chore if there were a supermarket within walking distance.”
Rosario, who lives in an apartment on Buckley Street in the village, adds, “I don’t own a car so I either have to walk to ShopRite, find a ride, and sometimes I have to pay almost $6 for a cab… It’s a real drag and it gets expensive. It’s exhausting too, if I have to walk.”
With the impending reopening of the “Great American” supermarket at 261 North Main Street slated for February 15, Rosario’s least liked chore will become a whole lot easier. Rosario isn’t the only one looking forward to the store’s grand reopening, though.
Dennis “Dzo” Gonzalez, who lives with his wife and young daughter on Marion Avenue in the village, says, “I think it’s great. I mean, I have a car but it’s just really annoying to have to drive all the way to ShopRite for a bottle of formula, and forget about stopping at one of the mini-marts, they charge close to double what ShopRite charges, so you really have no choice but to make the trip [to Shoprite].”
Indeed, since “Gary’s Great American” shuttered its doors two summers ago, those who live in the village and especially those without a vehicle, and the elderly have had to choose between finding a way to make the two-mile trip to ShopRite, or to just make due without.
For generations of Liberty residents Great American was the place to go for that gallon of milk or that carton of eggs they’d just run out of.
That was, of course, until the store suddenly and inexplicably closed down that day two summers ago. Since then the property has been purchased by Brooklyn based grocery chain NSA Supermarkets. The store was originally set to reopen last summer, but that target date has obviously come and gone.
In a county where residents have become accustomed to the promise of new business and economic development, only to be let down time and again, Gonzalez says, “I’ll believe it when I see it open and people in there shopping.”
In a January 22 interview with the Democrat, Town of Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti, said, “I was told it [Great American] was supposed to open this week… I mean, there’s food on the shelves in there, but we’ve heard the rumors before. February 15 makes more sense at this point.”
Barbuti added, “For this end of town I think it’s spectacular and long overdue. I believe it’s all a synergy that’s fed off of the renovations at the school [Liberty Elementary School] as well as the renovations to the Mobil gas station across the street. It’s a little bit of a renaissance for us and I think it’s great.”
Village of Liberty Code Enforcement Officer Pam Winters seemed equal parts skeptical and optimistic about Great American, saying, “February 15 is the date I’ve heard and I really hope it happens this time.” Winters then explained, “I think initially the developers were hoping to open up in January, but either way it’s certainly a welcome development . . . a lot of people on this end of town really need this.”
NSA which stands for Neighborhood Supermarkets Association bills itself as “Truly a neighborhood store,” and in that spirit, Winters offered, “I’ve heard that NSA has decided to keep the name Great American. Makes sense since that’s what everyone has known it as for so many years. I’m sure they’re savvy enough to not want to lose that brand recognition around here.”
“We want to provide the most pleasant shopping experience possible for our customers,” said NSA comptroller John Lim. Added Lim, “Our goal with our stores is to operate clean, well stocked supermarkets with great service. We want to offer our customers a unique shopping experience.”
Liberty Community Development Corporation head Heinrich Strauch, said of the impending reopening, “Well, it’s about time and long overdue. I really don’t know what the hold-up has been, but I do know that the developers have made several upgrades to the property.”
Besides the renovated lot, Strauch also said that the company has upgraded the heating and cooling system in the store, as well as bringing the structure, as he said, “Up to snuff and into the 21st century.”
As for Gonzalez, though, he remains skeptical, “You know, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Once you’re promised things over and over again and they don’t come to be, you just stop believing it’ll ever happen.”