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Queens Blvd Needs You

Oct. 11, 2010

Hello Everyone,

As many of you may already know a number of stores have gone out of business on, or just off, Queens Boulevard.

As a result of this, some concerned members of the Sunnyside business community have been meeting, and holding discussions on how to get more Sunnyside residents to shop on Queens Boulevard?

To that end, I have been asked by some of the store owners to post the following questionnaire to readers:

What would it take to get the Boulevard back up and thriving as it used to be?

How we get more people to shop on Queens Boulevard?

What type of stores would you like to see on the Boulevard?

How can we attract betters stores here?

Compare Sunnyside to other neighborhoods: What stores are in Astoria, not in Sunnyside ?

What type or name of store would like to see open on Queens Boulevard?

Boutiques? Book Stores ? Children’s stores?shoe stores?

How do we create a point of destination– from Art Shows, theaters, events, etc. other?

Please provide feedback,

Christian Murray

email the author: [email protected]

50 Comments

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Young Sunnysidee

We need a good old ice cream shop like the one that used to be on greenpoint ave & 46 st. That was my favorite place when I was younger. I don’t like baskin Robbins. I know in the Brooklyn area, there’s tons of cafes & organic grocery stores which I see a lot of people going in. But to tell you all the truth, the neighborhood is being destroy by vandalizers. Those “graffiti artists”. Lets get rid of them. We need clothing stores & for kids specially.

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Anonymous

Well, the 99 cent store is trashy as well as the cinema, the pet store nearby is cramped and does any body go into the pawn stores? Ew. More towards going to Jackson heights there are two many internet or columbian and check shops.
We could use bookstores, beauty-shops, a new pet store, and definitly shoe and clothing stores!!!!!!!!

more benches, plants and antique decor

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Audry

We need shoe and clothing stores. More good restaurants, bistros, bookstores, nice coffee shops, health/ organic shops.

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sunnysider

Well, I don’t like to stroll down or shop on QB for two reasons:

1. It’s ugly.
2. It’s stores are old-fashioned and don’t sell most of what I need/use.

Reasons:

1. Landlords and biz owners are too cheap and short-sighted to see that a small investment in creating an inviting common space pays off in the long run. Landlords are the primary problem.They are so endlessly greedy that small biz owners can’t spare the cash to invest is storefront improvements.

2. Some of the most common items sold in the neighborhood are: alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, fast food and cheap plastic goods. These items are not perishable and have high margins. Even the “better restaurants” have tired, old ideas about food. So why should I shop/eat there?

Solutions:

1. Better awnings. More open roll-down gates. Interesting lighting. More trees plants. More sidewalk benches. None of this improves the quality of the types of stores.

2. Lower commercial rents!

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Mike Novak

While there is a hue and cry for “Trader Joes” and “TJ MAXX”, there is one undeniable fact, there is not enough parking in Sunnyside for residents, let alone the mobs that will come though our neighborhood to shop at these mega-marts.

Mega Marts are NOT the answer.

I remember being upset for a long time that Ben’s Meat-0-Mat was forced out after serving the community for many, many years because of astronomical rent increases. And we see it more and more as storefronts go empty for years at a time in some cases because landlords refuse to get a grip on reality and realize that the “good times” are gone and that they, by virtue of thier greed, are helping to destroy what was, and still (thankfully) is, a great neighborhood.

What we need is more common sense and personal responsibility by the landlords to do some WORK and attract tenants who can actually thrive in our neighborhood as opposed to some random guy with a check in his hand.

Speaking of landlords, there are MANY “absentee” landlords on Queens Blvd and Greenpoint Ave. who manage their properties from afar, without a whit of care as to whom they rent to. These owners need to be identified and contacted by the BID or Chamber or Commerce and be presented with the communities concerns.

It all begins and ends with landlords.

Always has, always will.

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Krissi

Is Sunnyside Shines pitching these kinds of retailers? The landlords should pitch themselves all together to these types of places with a package on info on the neighborhood. If the demographics fit what the store/service is looking for then all the landlords would have an equal chance of getting the tenant as the store/service can take a “tour” of the area. Putting up signs that say “for rent” is not the way to attract good merchants. They should hire a GOOD commercial broker for the neighborhood with these kind of contacts. I work in RE (but not on the commercial side) and would be happy to get Sunnyside Shines in touch with some people I know.

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Sofia Geier

Ditto on “TJMaxx.” The only one currently in Western Queens is in Rego Park. “TJMaxx” would be a good fit for the community and would bring shoppers to Queens Boulevard.
Famous Footwear has wide variety of brands and reasonable prices for decent/good quality shoes that aren’t harmful to your feet like most of the shoes at Payless, unfortunately.

Reply
Jose

What would it take to get the Boulevard back up and thriving as it used to be?

I don’t know but it wouldn’t hurt if more business owners took it upon themselves to power hose the part of the sidewalk in front of their stores.

How do we get more people to shop on Queens Boulevard?

By selling stuff that you can’t get cheaper online. Why pay Radio Shack $40 bucks for a cable you can get through Amazon for $8. Ditto with books.

What type of stores would you like to see on the Boulevard?
Clothing and shoe stores.

How can we attract betters stores here?
Give the store owners and the building owners a tax break. In fact, lower the taxes for EVERYONE.

Compare Sunnyside to other neighborhoods: What stores are in Astoria, not in Sunnyside ?

I hardly go to Astoria but the stores seem the same to me.

What type or name of store would like to see open on Queens Boulevard?
Marshalls, TJ Max, DSW, Daffy’s

Boutiques? Book Stores ? Children’s stores?shoe stores?

You can get the same books and children’s stuff online for cheap. Why pay retail for these items?

Shoes and clothes are another matter, you HAVE to try them on.

How do we create a point of destination– from Art Shows, theaters, events, etc. other?

With beautiful art like they did in Europe. In the meantime, just join a local Meetup (meetup.com) group and actually attend when they get together.

Two other personal observations…

Sunnyside has many things: grocery stores, veterinarian, pubs, restaurants, movie theatre, tax services, 24 hour pharmacies and supermarkets, and on and on… It’s just that, generally speaking, it’s not a pretty or hip-looking neighborhood.

What I have discovered is that it is a friendly neighborhood. I have made many friends and acquaintances here by simply crossing paths with them enough times.

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Sofia Geier

From a recent TIME OUT New York.

I’ve been to “Waltz-Astoria” (judged a singer/songwriter competition there, so much FUN! and the best red velvet cake ever. This place has no cover, but, a $10 food/drink minimum).

The “Creek and the Cave” in LIC has reinvented itself as one of the premier comedy clubs in NYC, not just Queens.

The Kew Gardens Cinema (similar in size to Sunnyside’s gross Center Cinema) is where my husband and I go on movie dates. They play great movies, not the same old/same old horror flicks and blockbusters — and the home-made cookies at the concessions counter are yummy. THey also have discount admissions on two nights a week.

Here’s the TIME OUT article.
The club night that started it all
Queens just may have Water Taxi Beach to thank for its growing reputation as a nightlife destination. DJs Nickodemus and Mariano chose the outdoor LIC hot spot as the permanent home for their Turntables on the Hudson party in 2008: The duo spins an eclectic mix of hip-hop, house, Afrobeat and Eastern European Gypsy. At the Friday 30 soiree, special-guest deck-wreckers Deepa, Dreidel and Derek Sessions will all spin deep house—sweat out your troubles, dig your toes into the sand and enjoy the views of Manhattan far, far away from its stifling, crowded bars. 2 Borden Ave at 2nd St, Long Island City (212-742-1969, watertaxibeach.com). Subway: G to 21st St, 7 to Vernon Blvd–Jackson Ave. Party every Friday through Sept 10 8pm–3am; $10.

Hear Louis Armstrong rehearse // (Pat Dorfman’s idea for a Sunnyside Museum is a great one.)

You may not be able to blow a horn like Satchmo, but you can ogle the gold-plated one the trumpeter played at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The King of Jazz called the home his “little pad in Corona,” and the vibe hasn’t changed much since his wife Lucille purchased it in 1943—right down to the music wafting from hidden speakers (today, you’ll hear original recordings of Armstrong practicing “Blueberry Hill,” among other audio treats). The museum also organizes free summer concerts in the Japanese-style garden, with upcoming shows featuring Carol Sudhalter’s Astoria Jazz Band (August 28 at 1pm). 34-56 107th St at 37th Ave, Corona (718-478-8274, louisarmstronghouse.org). Subway: 7 to 103rd St–Corona Plaza. $8, concerts free.

Open-mike madness!
It would be easy to mistake Waltz-Astoria for just another quaint brick residence on Ditmars Boulevard. But the live music streaming through the open windows every Tuesday and Wednesday night sets it apart: Twice a week, the café holds an open-mike series that draws audiophiles from Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey. “Sometimes we’ll have a rapper, sometimes we’ll be listening to classical piano,” says artistic director Song Gonzalez. Waltz-Astoria also hosts some of the most locally supported comedy shows in the borough, and Gonzalez often holds competitions like last fall’s Battle of the Sexes. (Next stand-up showcase: August 12 at 8pm.) 23-14 Ditmars Blvd between 23rd and 24th Sts, Astoria (718-95-MUSIC, waltz-astoria.com). Subway: N, Q to Astoria–Ditmars Blvd. Tue, Wed 8:30pm; $10 food and drink minimum.

A comic-book shop for purists
Forgoing the toys packed in the crevices of other stores, Silver Age Comics devotes itself entirely to new and vintage books, with a half-price bin that yields some filler issues with slashed prices. Can’t find what you’re looking for? The staff will use its own super powers to help track it down. 22-55 31st St between Ditmars Blvd and 23rd Ave, Astoria (718-721-9691, silveragecomics.com). Subway: N, Q to Astoria–Ditmars Blvd.

Laugh, dammit
The gem of the Queens comedy scene is The Creek and the Cave, a burgeoning multilevel comedy palace in Long Island City. Owner Rebecca Trent programs shows seven nights a week, and you can catch up to six free performances on a busy weekend night. The Creek has everything a budding comedy collective should offer its patrons: cheap Mexican food; a ramshackle theater hosting larger sketch and improv events; a smaller space downstairs for intimate stand-up or storytelling nights; and a bar with adjoining patio on which to press friends for their opinions when the jokes are over. 10-93 Jackson Ave between 11th St and 49th Ave, Long Island City (718-706-8783, creeklic.com). Subway: G to 21st St, 7 to Vernon Blvd–Jackson Ave.

Laugh MORE, dammit
On the first Thursday of each month, Astoria Brewhouse’s aptly titled Astoria Brew-HAHA (8pm; $5) transforms the upstairs banquet room into a makeshift club: Patrick Mitchell hosts comics such as Dan St. Germain, Harrison Greenbaum and Julian McCullough on a tiny platform abutted by windows directly overlooking 31st Street; as the N and Q trains rattle past, they add environmental punctuation to jokes about life in the city. The next Brew-HAHA is August 5; but you can stop by for the pub’s weekly open mike on Wednesday 28, which takes place on the Brewhouse’s airy covered patio. Astoria Brewhouse, 28-50 31st St between Newton and 30th Aves, Astoria (718-728-0050, astoriabrewhouse.com). Subway: N, Q to 30th Ave.

Poetry for the soul
The Jackson Heights Poetry Festival welcomes ten readers a month for its First Tuesdays Open Readings. “We always see a very diverse group—both in age and cultural background,” says JHPF director Marina Yoffe. “Poets are welcome and encouraged to read in their native language, as long as they provide a summary or translation in English.” Terraza 7 Train Café, 40-19 Gleane St between Britton and Roosevelt Aves, Elmhurst (jhpfest.org). Subway: 7 to Roosevelt Ave-82nd St. Sign up to perform at 7pm, readings begin at 7:30pm; suggested donation $5.

$7 movies!
The Kew Gardens Cinema is a movie-palace-turned-XXX-cinema, REVAMPED in 1999 into a shiny new movie house—with stadium seating in every theater and 3-D offerings. Refreshments aren’t your typical popcorn and Sour Patch Kids either—fresh-baked cookies are on the menu at the concession stand. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all tickets are just $7. 81-05 Lefferts Blvd at Austin St, Kew Gardens (718-441-9835, kewgardenstheatre.com). Travel: E, F to Kew Gardens–Union Tpke, LIRR to Kew Gardens. Regular admission $7–$12, special events $8–$20.

Read more: http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/own-this-city/87577/queens-culture-and-comedy-queens-guide#ixzz12HM2E51j

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Sofia Geier

This place was covered in a New York Mag article in August 2010 on the rise of indie bookstores, some featuring second-hand books. QB rents are probably too high, but Skillman Ave might be just right. Better than trekking all the way to Forest Hills for BN.
“Boulevard Books & Cafe”
South Brooklyn’s two-month-old Boulevard is a welcoming shop, featuring commendable fiction and cooking sections and a KIDS’ AREA with flattened animal seats. The BOOK CLUB already attracts dozens of locals, and a COFFEE BAR and CRAFTS AREA are in the works. 7518 Thirteenth Ave., nr. 76th St., Dyker Heights; 718-680-5881.

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Krissi

What would it take to get the Boulevard back up and thriving as it used to be? MORE SHOPPING + OUTDOOR DINING!

How we get more people to shop on Queens Boulevard? ugh, more useful stores?

What type of stores would you like to see on the Boulevard? clothing shopping of a slightly higher end and more mature audience than, say baby blue.

How can we attract betters stores here? show them the statistics how the neighborhood’s changed a lot over the past 10 years and is gentrifying. I’d shop a lot more in the neighborhood if there was shopping to do!

Compare Sunnyside to other neighborhoods: What stores are in Astoria, not in Sunnyside ? Not that I like chains, but for shopping purposes they are easy. Astoria has Express/Gap/Victorias Secret/etc and a LOT more outdoor dining! I go there on the weekends more to hang out whereas Sunnyside I only go out to eat or stay in my apt to sleep

What type or name of store would like to see open on Queens Boulevard? Shoe and clothing stores (I’m dying for a payless!)

Boutiques? Book Stores ? Children’s stores?shoe stores? Book store would be a HUGE plus. Again, I’m not talking B+N here, but a Borders would be great! We desperatly need a decent shoe store.

How do we create a point of destination– from Art Shows, theaters, events, etc. other? Events, particuarly those that show off the food + pub atmosphere in Sunnyside. Perhaps a pub crawl? My friends from Manahttan know sunnyside is good for that kind of thing and I can get them out of Manhattan by offering food + beer 🙂

Please provide feedback,

Reply
Jamie

Alice writes:
“What about a children’s party store…where kids hold their birthday parties..”

Seconded. Locate it towards the back of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor/ soda fountain. Make it as stroller-friendly as humanly possible; offer non-dairy or lower fat choices (sorbet, gelato, “water ice,” icees, “froyo”); and design it such that one parent alone can quickly and easily order their treats, pay under $10 bucks, grab ’em, and split, with a few of kids in tow.

I predict that the innumerable children from a cross-section of the ever-changing mix of diverse but growing families who live south of the Boulevard in particular would flock to such a place, and insist on dragging their parent(s) back there at every opportunity.

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Sofia

So many good ideas put forward. While we’re thinking creatively, how about providing *Marketing and Business expertise guidance/training to new and existing businesses to help insure success in the neighborhood?

“Sunnysider” laments the closing of Sugar & Joe (cafe) and Nourish (health products) — however, it’s the responsibility of a business to entice customers in and keep them coming back. I was gratified to see a sign listing “Specials” outside Basmati Table today. Especially in this economy businesses have to offer really good value to build a loyal customer base.

Main Streets all over the U.S. have used *art galleries, theaters, museums, live music venues, comedy clubs etc. to draw customers to neighborhoods during weekend and evening hours — and those customers then eat and drink in the neighborhood before and after.

*Rehearsal studios (dance, theater) are in short supply in Manhattan — and Sunnyside is so easy to get to on our #1 rated 7 train! (GreenSpace dance rehearsal studio in LIC is fully booked almost every day from 9 am to 9 pm.) Hungry actors and dancers would support good, local eateries, especially if they have wifi, vegetarian options!, are attractive and reasonably priced. Those folks would also browse and buy in an *independent bookstore/cupcake cafe, a la The Cupcake Cafe on 18th Street in Manhattan.

I believe we can have the bookstore many of us want if we bring people INTO the neighborhood to enjoy and support it WITH US. Indy bookstores also have authors come to read from their books to boost sales (free to attend) — and that draws people who then buy in the neighborhood.

A few clothing stores along the lines of Ethereal Boutique and Subdivision on Vernon Blvd. in LIC (with frequent designer trunk shows — free to attend) would add to the neighborhood “hip” factor. Site (great shop to buy gifts) in Astoria has evenings now and then with free wine boxes and cupcakes to lure customers in. Hmm, cupcake theme seems to be emerging. They’re small and therefore affordable:)

Would it be possible to convert one of the parking lots under the 7 train (controversial, I know — parking!) into a store like *Bridgemarket at 1st Avenue and 59th Street?

The “core” of the retail neighborhood — including both sides of the boulevard and incorporating Greenpoint Ave and Skillman Ave — needs to be identified (how far up, how far down along the Blvd) and the density of businesses (retail/arts/food and related enterprises) in that core area should be increased.

The fact that the 7 train runs through Queens Blvd. should be re-positioned as an opportunity, not a liability. In fact, it IS an opportunity. This train is the vehicle for bringing people to our neighborhood. It’s up to us as a business and cultural community to give people compelling reasons to get off the train in Sunnyside to shop, consume and recreate here.

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sunnysider

It amazes me that people are asking for things that we let go out of business… cafes? Sugar and Joe. Organic/health Food – Nourish. Lounges – Ra. And aren’t there 3 or 4 butchers in the neighborhood?

The average income in this neighborhood is less than in any of the surrounding areas. So if we want cute boutiques and fancy cafes, then the people calling for them will need to use all of them constantly. And pay the absurd prices necessitated by inflated rents. Because about 75% of the population in Sunnyside need the discount and dollar stores. That 75% are also demographically library users – not book buyers.

More parking? Do we really need more people driving in Sunnyside. Aren’t there enough people getting hit by cars while crossing the street or riding their bikes.

If you want the neighborhood to thrive, that means understanding the cultural and economic factors that determine when and where people spend their money. All of the people.

I like this Sunnyside – with all it’s diversity, cultural, economic, and otherwise. Why lament that Sunnyside isn’t Brooklyn? It’s not. It’s Queens. And it’s a great place to live.

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Brown Rabbit

A GOOD (!!!) health food store with fresh organic produce, free-range meats, artisan cheeses and whole grain bread would be terrific. Anyone who wants to open a food store on Queens Blvd. should take The Garden in Greenpoint (on Manhattan Avenue) as a model. It is always packed and has high quality food at affordable prices.

Also, a book store.

I really don’t see any need for more discount and chain stores/restaurants. Good ethnic restaurants, such as the Turkish Grill and Ariyosha are always welcome.

We also love Sunnyside’s antique/vintage/thrift stores.

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Elliot

The Courtyard, Maggie maes, Flynns Inn(r.i.p), Gaslight, PJ Horgans, Diving Bell(r.i.p), Mcguinesses, Bliss Street station, The Brogue, The new Flynns Inn, Copper Kettle. . . . Guess what happens with the crowds of people who live in Sunnyside that dont particularly enjoy drinking at an irish pub – they go to Brooklyn or Manhattan for the night. There are NO options for the QB nightlife.

QB needs good, old-school-type independent businesses to make it stand out. Look at how good Superior Market does because their beer selection is huge. . instead of another irish pub, how about giving our nightlife some more options – an unpretentious lounge with some micro brews, well made cocktails & a good jukebox- – – – – maybe some LIVE music once a month.

Reading all of the comments above, it seems like everyone is just asking for some more variety. Most of the businesses that have opened on QB in the last 5 years have been more of the same. If you want to inspire people to stay in the neighborhood, give them something new and unique.

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sj

As everyone has stated, we need more diversity along QB. There are too many pizza places, pharmacies, Irish bars, etc… Same argument as above. I think we do need one large anchor store like Old Navy, etc to help the other, more local stores. Skillman can be the local, more unique block, but QB is big, heavily trafficked and available to everyone on there way out (or into) Manhattan. Also, why is there a vacant lot on QB? I think the renovation of Keyfood will help, but the pawn shops are ridiculous.

Also, trust me, the Grind was no model store. I’ve never met a worse small business operator. We may have liked the idea, but that place was run into the ground.

Overall, I think we are seeing so many vacant storefronts due to poor business operations and poor products/service/quality. I haven’t been surprised with any store closing yet. There is too much of the same going on in Sunnyside, and much of it is not worthy of my patronage.

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Susan

First, more diversity among the retailers is needed. As others said, we have enough discount stores, Thai restaurants, Irish bars, banks, and drugstores.

Second, don’t look to Astoria/Steinway Street today for solutions or ideas. The area has been gutted of decent shopping. Consider how it was 25 years ago and you might be on to something. Back then you had a lot of smaller local chains (Robbins, S&A, Lechter’s) plus a wide selection of independent shops with variety – as a teenager, I could shop for clothes there, and so could my 70-year-old grandmother. You could get everything from underwear to outerwear, and swimwear! Most of the stores were not part of a chain. The fact that much of this has gone away is something you need to consider. The odds are not in favor of the small independent retailer. I am not sure how much the existing retail community and Community Board can do to change this.

Third, (some of) the retailers that we do have need to clean up their storefronts AND their stores. Is there not a vendor with a power hose who could be hired to wash the awings once a month? Also, I thought the current type of security gate as seen on the now-closed Rose restaurant is to be phased out under NYC law. Your store needs to look like it is open in order to attract business. People should be able to see into the space from the street. Also, cluttering up every available inch of space is a turnoff to many. If you have a restaurant, good food and good service are VERY important.

There are a lot of basic items that I find I have to leave the neighborhood to buy. Where does one buy ANY clothing? Old Navy and Marhsall’s do not cut it.

Stop & Shop is halfway decent as far as supermarkets go, but it is not friendly to those who do not have a car and bring their own bags (you get to pack your own bags then!) The other smaller supermarkets in the area are cramped, dirty, often with surly employees, and overpriced for certain items especially the produce, which is often lacking in quality outside of the Saturday Greenmarket. The Greenmarket is a great addition to the area but at once a week you either have to plan ahead very well or risk throwing out/composting what goes bad before you can use it.

For kids, some toys are sold in the discount stores but I suspect the local kids want other things. GameStop was a good addition for gamers (I’m not one but I can see people shopping in there all the time).

A standalone bookstore may not be sustainable in this market. Even Barnes & Noble and Borders are struggling with a diverse product mix and a long long history of being in the business. BUT perhaps a book/magazine/coffee/cafe combination would do well. Not like the beat-up looking stores that sell Lotto and little else. A used book store might do well but it should be well organized. As others said, bookstores that double as event spaces are welcome additions to other neighborhoods.

Housewares. If I want to buy a can opener, I don’t want the one that is $1.99 and works twice before I have to throw it out. I shouldn’t have to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond for this. Lampshades, coffee makers, shower curtains, home decor, mirrors, these are all items people buy or replace from time to time. Look at the Fantasy store on Steinway Street (IF it’s still there) and consider that it used to have competition! National Wholesale Liquidators sometimes has some of these items but it’s a schlep for many and you never know what you’ll find (fun for some but not if you are looking for something specific).

I would not be in favor of duplicating the chain stores on Steinway–the Gap, Victoria’s Secret, bla bla bla…same old, same old. I would love to see more independent retailers but they need to be able to pay the rent. Therefore, building owners need to be realistic about what their properties are worth. I find it really hard to imagine how some stores stay open based on what I hear about the rents. When a store ends up surrounded by vacancies it becomes unfair to that one store that can stay open.

I don’t know how it works with regard to vacant properties and income taxes but it seems there is some “benefit” to property owners who let property sit idle. (What’s up with that big hole in the ground next to Starbucks?)

The traffic. Well, things CAN be done to reduce traffic and make QB safer. The will to do it must be strong, however, and because QB leads beyond Sunnyside, I am not sure that we have it.

The movie theater. I haven’t set foot in it once since moving here from Astoria in 2005. Why? Because my neighbors tell me not to bother, that it’s dirty and dingy. They must see enough business to stay open but it doesn’t feel like a welcoming place. I find it odd that a friend in Reading, Pennsylvania, tells me about the wonderful independent films she sees right in her neighborhood but if I want to see the same film, I have to take a (long) subway ride to downtown Manhattan.

Ok, FINALLY, a proper Greek restaurant. Not a diner. A restaurant along the lines of Uncle George’s or Elias in Astoria, please.

Thank you.

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Stacey

How about a serious crackdown on graffiti? Not just erasing it, but cracking down on those doing it? No one wants to open a business with the knowledge that they’re going to be constantly battling vandalism to their store fronts.

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Jola

I would like more trees as well. And the hanging flower baskets were great idea, but it didn’t work. I agree that our neighborhood is too diverse to please everyone. While I personally dislike the discount stores with their merchandise spilling out to the sidewalk, they are the only one with the consumers in them. I don’t want any chain stores like Payless, Old Navy or Modell’s with their big delivery tracks in our neighborhood. I don’t want Sunnyside to be a shopping destination for people from outside of our neighborhood. Personally I would like a real café. I would also like a good Italian or French bakery and a real butcher store like Ottomanelli’s in Woodside.

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Rob

The Irish bars are good for the neighborhood. They attract people to the area that don’t necessarily live here. So i think it is stupid to blame them for everything.
That 99cent shop is the what should be blamed. It’s bloody disgusting and so to are the owners. Yuk.

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Conrad

“Or lets get shuttle busses for the weekend so you can leave your cars at home and have a pick up time and a drop off time for everyone like every hour or something like that”

Shuttle buses to where? We’re surrounded by excellent transit — 7 train, multiple buses, LIRR, bike lanes, Zipcar on 47th St. The last thing we need are shuttle buses and more parking. No one living here should need to own a car to get by. This isn’t Maspeth or Little Neck. One of the best aspects of Sunnyside is the excellent transit options and it’s location.

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local

I agree with others who’ve said a real cafe is in order. Starbucks is always *packed.* It would be great to have someplace like Aubergine — or even a place more drink-centric, like Communitea in LIC — that has wifi, plenty of seating, maybe some to-go lunch options. Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights is a nice model that has really become a hub for the neighborhood. A similar place in Sunnyside, near a 7 train stop, could also draw people from nearby neighborhoods that have a dearth of wifi cafes.

I also second those who’ve voted for a bookstore. I know now’s not the best time to open a bookstore, but I think models like WORD in Greenpoint and Greenlight in Fort Greene, which are event spaces as much as bookstores, offer a sustainable model.

Also: Is there any way to get Center Cinemas to play less terrible movies? I actually love that theater, in all its cheap and dingy glory, but it would be nice if it occasionally played things other than the trashiest B horror movies.

In terms of creating a nicer environment for strolling… Sidewalk seating, yes, but also MORE TREES. That’s certainly part of why Skillman is so nice.

And for those wanting an organic food market… support Go Natural at 45th & QB! It may be overpriced, but it’s a great place, definitely better than nothing, and it won’t last long if no one goes there.

And yes, Trader Joe’s, if you’re listening: You are most welcome here in Sunnyside.

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Time's Up

Unfortunately, Queens Blvd. is just too much of a major thoroughfare for it to resemble Skillman or any nice shopping stretch.

It’s a great question, and an almost impossible one to answer. I agree with many of the above comments, but the funny thing about this area is that it’s so insanely diverse that we may represent a small minority.

So, for example, while I’d love a great craft beer bar instead of one of the many pubs, whose to say there’s enough of you who’d agree to keep the place open.

Skillman is a good model to look into. As is Cobble Hill, Park Slope, and about five or six other BK neighborhoods. I love the Q to death, but some areas in BK really make it look pathetic in comparison. But again, the Blvd is too expressway-like for it to ever be the main retail draw.

And yes, I would kill to have a Trader Joe’s too. Maybe we should send out a collective plea to them.

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sunnysider

The other part of this problem is once you get to our little town where do you park your car. our parking is horrile we need to rethink our partking or building parking lots or change under the train to fit more cars.. or block off our street on sunday so we can use them for parking. Let us use rite aid on roosvelt and 49th street their parking lot.. Or lets get shuttle busses for the weekend so you can leave your cars at home and have a pick up time and a drop off time for everyone like every hour or something like that

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SunnysideTeresa

Not sure how it needs to be done, but Queens Boulevard could be more attractive and inviting. Nothing to be done about the traffic, I would think, but it doesn’t have the charm of Skillman Avenue.

I would think that a Trader Joe’s would be much better placed in Sunnyside than it is way over on Metropolitan Avenue. I think they would get loads of business.

We don’t have any decent women’s clothing or shoe stores. I often tramp over to Old Navy or Marshalls. But at the same time I know that many people would not like to see these type of stores in the neighborhood. But if the rents were affordable, boutique or locally owned stores would be the best.

We already have very many good restaurants. However, I think that the ones near the eyesore that is that vacant lot are not helped.

My long-time desire has been to have some sort of combination cultural place that could include the visual arts, theatrical arts, art cinema, poetry readings, with some sort of cafe type of venue. Although it might not have been supported a few years ago, I truly believe it could be at this point.

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sunnysider

How about renting out the center theatre for musical concerts and some comedy shows. How about some discount party stores. how about a large family resaurant with high chairs or a familyy room or a place where you can have a party rooom that is not an arm and a leg. We have no book stores and we have plenty of students that need books. We need to attract big business here and offer discounts several time a year.We need a way to tranport our seniors to shop that cannot walk far or a all. We need to maket our little town on a every day basis not just hokidays. We have base ball playoffs and no specials for our residence. We need to reach out to other towns like astoria. maspeth, forrest hills, Jackson heights with specials. We need a bid for our town not just for a small sectin of our town. We need specials for skillman ave not just gp and qb. We need the banks to invest or the business work to invest in our town. How about a bus tour for shopping in our town with a free lunch or bottle of wine. just a few ideas. Our town is having a nervous breakdown. We Need To Maket our town bottom line. Organzie a group of people to help to it. Some volunteer or pay for their time.

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dorkbomb

i think it’s a tough sell. what are good businesses to put along a one way, 4 lane highway, that cannot easily be crossed or walked along?

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kathy

Something HIP! A bar that isn’t for Long Islanders or Jersey types or an Irish pub. Or a health store that isn’t overpriced with sketchy supplements. Something Brooklyn-y. A consignment shop or boutique. Or book/music/coffee shop type thing that isn’t lame (like the Grind with their giant flat screened tvs).

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Diane Kolack

We need a healthy inexpensive fast casual restaurant (not a chain). Somplace I can go and spend under $10 for a nice entree salad with real vegetables and good quality meat, with a good atmosphere.

The real problem is that people don’t want to walk around on Queens Blvd – fix the traffic/safety issues and more people will shop here I bet.

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Adam

Let’s take a quick, imaginary stroll down Queens BLVD, shall we. What do we find: Irish Pub, bodega, Irish Pub, bodega, Pizza place, bodega, Irish pub, diner, dunkin donuts, irish pub, bodega, White Castle, gas station, bodega, Irish pub, diner, drug store, drug store, bodega, Wendy’s, bodega, Irish pub, drug store….

See the problem?

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Theresa

We need some women’s clothing and shoe store.
Toy store, Arts and crafts, books.

What we don’t need is more banks, restaurants, discounts stores (99c) drug stores and jewelry.

I agree Skillman has some nice store could use a small bank on Skillman.

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Dan K

What would it take to get the Boulevard back up and thriving as it used to be? Lower rents for stores and more culture.

How we get more people to shop on Queens Boulevard? Live music events.

What type of stores would you like to see on the Boulevard? Something with culture. Book stores seem doomed, but perhaps something that mixed books with crafts and toys. NO to pawn and gold shops!

How can we attract betters stores here? Lower the rents.

Compare Sunnyside to other neighborhoods: What stores are in Astoria, not in Sunnyside ? Dunno.

What type or name of store would like to see open on Queens Boulevard? See above.

Boutiques? Book Stores ? Children’s stores?shoe stores?

How do we create a point of destination– from Art Shows, theaters, events, etc. other? Live music. Art happenings.

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Elliot

Where was the Sunnyside business community when people were protesting the new “easy cash/easy loan pawn shop” 2 months ago? I live on QB and I was enraged when I found out we were getting another one(especially on a major corner – 46th/bliss) .. . I ask, what new and unique businesses will want to open up on Queens blvd. now that there’s a huge pawn shop on a major corner?
Maybe the business community should focus their attention on Skillman Avenue.. . It’s charming, clean and already has a nice vibe. If there were a couple of more cafes & shopping options, Skillman would be a complete destination block.

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sunnyskies

We need to get a GAP or a second-hand bookstore or a restaurant with cooking classes. Other ideas …. a salid bar like the store “Chopped” , an Italian bakery, outdoor cafes. An arts and crafts store. A homemade candy store or fudge store.

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Marilyn

As for Art, I wish MOMA could help create an exhibition space of some kind at the old MoMAQNS (near 33rd St.) location. And then advertise it as they do for P.S.1.

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Conrad

Many of the businesses that are closing aren’t unique. The pizzeria on 46th wasn’t good, plus Lenny’s just opened on GP Ave and is much better. The corner store at 46th that closed wasn’t anything special, and there are several similar stores in the area. Diving Bell was an Irish pub, and you can throw a rock and hit an Irish pub anywhere within half a mile of where it used to be.

So it certainly seems like diversity would be nice. I would love to see some local/organic markets, butcher shops similar to places in BK like Meat Hook that have local, sustainable meats, a good Italian deli/market, a book store, a bike shop. A place like Bare Burger in Astoria would be great. Maybe a nice bar that isn’t an Irish pub replica. All services I need to go to Astoria, LIC, or Brooklyn for. Also, food options that are open past 11pm on weekdays would be much appreciated (Wendy’s and White Castle have a monopoly on that market).

What we don’t need: more Thai or Chinese fast food restaurants, corner stores, grocery stores, Irish pubs, fast food chains, bargain/dollar stores. The places that work the best, in my opinion, are Quaint, Bliss Bistro, the thrift shops, Center Cinema, De Mole, Chips, Foxy’s, Aubergine Cafe, The Kettle, TJ’s Bistro. The Skillman strip from about 45th St to 50th St could possibly be a model of what to do. Like someone else said, it’s a much more tranquil, bucolic stretch than the Blvd, but it’s also more diverse, pleasant, and successful. I think there are lessons there that could translate to Queens Blvd.

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Tony

Sunnyside needs an outdoor cafe that has the “Sunnyside Gardens Experience”. Claret is very nice, but is wine focused. Starberry is ‘ok’, but it has a “modern” decor and is more ice cream focused. While the food is ok at New York Style Eats, the open kitchen doesn’t give you a place you want to sit, read and relax. If you notice, Starbucks’ seating is always full. I think The Grind didn’t work out because it wasn’t the right location – it was away from the core residential section of the neighborhood and was too close the hustle-and-bustle of Queens Blvd. If Aubergine Cafe had outside tables, it would be perfect.

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Greg Ginn

re: “An administration that isn’t so hostile and destructive to small business.”

That’s why we voted the Republicans out. Next suggestion?

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Roxy

Queens Boulevard seems pretty well rented on both sides between 40th and 48th Streets. The mix of stores isn’t what you’d find at the Queens Center Mall, but they seem to provide the needs of the neighborhood. On the south side, Lowery Liquors, CVS, White Castle, South Pole, Radio Shack, NY Style Eats, and Key Food seem to be the magnets. The north side has Burger King, Butcher Block just around the corner, the Center multiplex cinema, several banks, and numerous restaurants, pubs, and bargain stores. What else do we need?

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Katy

I try to avoid the Queens Blvd because of the traffic. It’s a trek to cross to the other side with small kids. I prefer to frequent businesses along Skillman Ave because it has less traffic. I also prefer to dine out on Skillman because it is more tranquil.

That said, Sunnyside lacks a boutique wine store like Table Wine in Jackson Heights or Vine Wine in LIC. It also lacks a proper Italian deli and I find that our family goes to Astoria for that frequently. We would like a yarn / book / tea and craft shop. Or, a cheese shop? Or a stationary store? Or, a fruit market like those on Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint or an organic grocery like Jin’s in Woodside? There are so many things that I find I either do without or travel outside Sunnyside to get. The last time I shopped on the boulevard I was charged double for an item (vitamins) that I found in Woodside for half price ($9.99 as opposed to $19.99).

The problem with Queens Blvd is that all the new stores are duplicates of what are already there: Subway sandwich shops, pawn shops, pharmacies, now Thai restaurants, etc.

We have our favorites on QB, but when it comes to wandering down the boulevard and window shopping, it’s unlikely. Personally, I don’t even know which stores are new or out of business because I’ve avoided strolling the boulevard for so long.

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Jay

I actually think Sunnyside needs something that Astoria does NOT have. Perhaps a great organic/local fruit & veggie market or try to attract a Trader Joe’s or Shake Shack.

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Marilyn

Years ago, when I was at PS 150, there was a place on the Blvd. between 42 and41 St –south side, called The Discount House–it sold good quality but reduced price school and paper office supplies of all kinds, but catering to what the kids needed for school mostly and also some art supplies and crafts materials. Local teachers would tell kids–you can get this at the Discount House. Such a store could offer introductory coupons to teachers at the local schools 150, 199, 125…..

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Marilyn

Do you think people are shopping elsewhere or just not shopping and dining out because money is tight?

Various kinds of coupons 2 for one or some such from exisiting stores might help or one night a week with special cheaper menu-dinner (or lunch) at a local eatery? Places where moms ( or dads) can bring a little one in a stroller comfortably and chat with friends for an hour or so. Children’s bookstore–with second hand used book option and play space would be great.

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