VALLEY COTTAGE, N.Y. -- It was hard to come by a parking spot at the Lake Ridge Plaza along Route 303 on Friday as Foodtown of Valley Cottage opened it’s doors to the public.
The retailer boasts 70 other locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and has taken over the space formerly inhabited by A&P, which closed all of it’s stores last November .
“There was a need here,” said Gabriel Estevez, one of the owners of the new location along with his partner, Albert Tirado. “It’s buzzing.”
Customers who returned to the shopping center for groceries for the first time in months were greeted by people on walking on stilts. They also had the chance to sign up for the stores loyalty card outside.
Inside were various vendors offering free samples.
Despite there being other supermarket options throughout the county, Estevez feels Foodtown's competitive prices and services like their perishable department are second to none. The store also boasts a staff of local employees, some of whom worked at the former A&P.
While Estevez and his family own other Foodtowns throughout the area, this is a first for Tirado, who lives just over the state line in Old Tappan. Before Foodtown, Tirado was involved with food manufacturers like Gerber and ConAgra Foods.
Tirado showed Estevez the store space after A&P closed and the pair decided to go for it before they stripped the place down and built it back up.
“I just hope that we are able to continue to support the community in any way we can and provide them what they need because the community needed the store,” Tirado said, adding customers were lined up outside at 6:45 a.m. this morning, “saying let us in.”
“The phone, everyday while we were working on the store, was just blowing off the hook,” Tirado said with people asking when the store would open.
Valley Cottage resident Maureen Garrabrant was leaving the store with some groceries on Friday afternoon. She used to do her food shopping at the old A&P sporadically before it closed.
“I think it’s great for the economy, the local economy, especially for the shopping center and the local businesses along the center,” she said.
A few doors down Cris Dash stood behind the counter at Spirit Town Wines & Liquors and said a supermarket opening in that location is ideal for the elderly population but also for the many patrons who come to shopping center on foot.
“It just simplifies things, and everyone is back to their normal routine,” Dash said.
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