As residents tighten belts, they shop for lower prices
By Alexia K. Arthurs
For Hunts Point resident Jacqueline Franco, the recession hasn’t just hit close to home. It’s in her kitchen.
“The prices are ridiculous,” says the 40-year-old mother of six. “Milk was what? $2? $3? Now it’s almost $5 per gallon.”
To save money, Franco stocks up at Western Beef in Prospect Place because “they sell by quantity.”
William Holton, 36, another Hunts Point resident shares her sentiments.
“I used to get a gallon of milk for 3 bucks, now it’s 4 or 5 bucks,” Holton said, pausing in his examination of frozen vegetables at Fine Fare on 163rd Street and Southern Boulevard . “Over the last couple of years, prices have gone up. I would like to see prices dramatically drop–extra emphasis on the dramatic,” he declared.
Holton has to travel out of his way to go to the Pathmark on 174th Street near Crotona Park. “Pricewise, it’s more convenient,” he said. “When everything is on sale, that’s when I go to Pathmark.”
Almost all the shoppers encountered at area grocery stores on a recent weekend voiced similar sentiments. They described a number of strategies for trying to stretch their grocery dollars.
Like Holton, more and more residents are choosing to spend time to save money. A survey of nine stores in and around Hunts Point found that different stores charged less for different items. A shopper might get the best deal on a sack of potatoes at one store but find that at the same store the orange juice cost 15 percent more than at a competitor down the street.
Fine Fare also attracts Soundview residents Jerry Soloman, 49, who was shopping with his wife Lashawn, 34. The store provides free delivery to customers who spend over $30.
“Prices have risen, said Soloman. It’s been raising every day.” Pointing to the laundry section he said, “Instead of going for Downy, you have to go for Final Touch” (the generic brand).
When asked about his shopping preference he said, “Everybody’s got specials. You have to go around to see what you can get.” His wife added “Right now you gotta save. Every penny counts.”
“I look at the circulars. I try to go where there are good deals and specials,” said Maria Garcia, 33, a Hunts Point resident, who travels periodically to Costco in Westchester to buy in bulk. “In this day we have to see where the deals and sales are,” she continued.
Ahmed Elngie, one of the owners of “Express Candy & Grocery” at the corner of Southern Boulevard and Longwood Avenue complained that his business has suffered because of the rise in prices.
“Everything has gone up,” he said. “We sell at the lowest price possible. We make a tiny profit. People come in, see the price and then leave.”
Some residents find it more convenient to shop close to home. Although Vivian Johnson, 47, said “You need a separate job to feed your family,” she and her husband Kevin, 50, generally stick to the C-town on Southern Boulevard at Longwood Avenue. “It’s the only supermarket close to us,” she said.
Although most people said prices have been going up, some disagreed.
“The prices are still the same way. The recession to me hasn’t changed anything,” said Sandra Francis, a Hunts Point resident who was shopping at Fine Fare.
“Things are going down dramatically,” insisted Marvin Cruz, a manager at Fine Fare.
“When it comes to food, prices are going down.”
A version of this story appeared in the July issue of The Hunts Point Express.