From Nowy Dziennik
August 14, 2002.
By Bozena Chojnacka
Poles in Greenpoint have different views when it comes to shopping
at 99-cent stores. There are some who visit them every day, claiming
there is no reason to shop at other places when one can buy the
same item at a much lower price. And there are those who dont
support businesses of this kind and consider them to be "trashy."
However, one thing is sure: 99-cent stores are a paradise for the
newcomers, who count every single penny they spend.
The 99-cent stores are usually owned by Arabs. The rich come to
buy hangers or garbage bags; the not so rich - food and cosmetics.
"Nowy Dziennik" visited a number of 99 cent stores located
on Manhattan Avenue, the main commercial strip in Greenpoint. The
aisles are so small that the merchandise is often found outside
the store. Its not difficult to stumble upon boxes filled
with juice bottles or rolls of carpet standing by the entrance.
But the lack of order generally doesnt discourage people from
shopping at these stores, where items on sale can cost as little
as 79 or 59 cents.
King, a new 99-cent store has just opened. The shelves are packed
and the racks are filled to the ceiling. Malgorzata Perkowska, a
20 year-old college student who works at King, says that people
most often buy toiletries, canned food and ornaments, but very often
they bring back what they had purchased, having realized the expiration
date on a product has passed, or some appliance they bought does
not work. But in spite of all this, she says, 99 cents stores are
needed. "Just because I buy juice at some other store, doesnt
mean that it is good. It may have expired as well," she says.
Tourists often make up the majority of the clientele during the
summer. Jolanta Dabrowska, who came to the Unites States a month
and a half ago, shops at 99 cents stores every day. "I come
here to grab soap, or a bottle of water or some candy," she
says. On the other hand, Kamila Marusa, who has been living in Greenpoint
for 32 years, says she never buys food products at such stores.
She comes here only to buy plastic cups or other utensils.
Malgorzata Zak always buys Kubus (juice imported from Poland),
which at King is 50 cents cheaper than elsewhere. The same applies
to other Polish products, including puddings, jelly and soups, which
cost more than a dollar at other stores.
The owner of King says that the store is his second business in
Greenpoint. He admits that the profits have gone down after September
11, but nevertheless his business is still flourishing. The owners
of other 99 cents stores share similar views. "We are living
in uncertain time. People spend money with a much greater reluctance
now. They try to save as much as possible and so they buy cheap
products that are sold only at such stores as mine," says Bassam
Koran, a Palestinian who owns another 99 cents store in Greenpoint.
Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin