Southern Brooklyn

Can We Have A Supermarket Please? Soon? Kthxbai.

Photos by Erica Sherman

Now bereft of my local Pathmark supermarket since April 15, and having to travel a mile on public transportation to get to Waldbaum’s, or be a lazybutt and order groceries from the wildly expensive Fresh Direct, this photo I shot last week reminds me of the almost prophetic words of Councilman Lew Fidler who, in February, after it was announced that the store at 3785 Nostrand Avenue would shutter, remarked: “I want you to picture for a second what Nostrand Avenue would look like if that Pathmark was gone.”

Let us pause as we take it all in.

While Nostrand Avenue between Avenue Y and Avenue Z pretty much looks as it always does, it is impossible to ignore the elephant in the room — the vacant, decaying monstrosity from where I used to purchase my food, whose windows across the street I now feel boring holes into my conscience, like the desperate, longing eyes of a Somalian child, whenever I pass by. There were days when I went shopping that that Pathmark’s aisles were so bustling, lines at the cashier so jammed, that a flash mob could have easily coalesced to recreate Cecille B. DeMille’s Battle of Actium scene in Cleopatra. And now this big, empty place is nothing more than a shell, whose entryway is pathetically littered with discarded trash and errant piles of circulars.

I always had a love / hate relationship with Pathmark. It was close by – a five-block walk from my house – so I, as a non-driver, greatly appreciated the convenience of being able to stock my pantry without having to schlep to and fro on buses, because what is more fun than riding a crowded B4 (the most loathsome bus line in creation) from Waldbaum’s on Ocean Avenue and Voorhies Avenue to the last stop on Knapp Street by the 7/11 with your 10 bags of groceries in tow? And then to further drag one’s sorry, grocery-toting carcass the four blocks home from the bus stop? I’d rather have a root canal.

One time in Pathmark, I purchased a block of cheddar cheese, only to discover that, once I had gotten home and was putting all my groceries away, the bottom end of the cheese block was covered in a thick, fuzzy layer of green. After I ceased dry-heaving, I returned back to the store, hit up the customer service kiosk, and the woman manning the area was not only profusely apologetic and accommodating, but also endowed with a sense of humor as sharp as the cheddar I never got to enjoy. She flagged down an employee over to her workstation, showed him the moldy cheese, and explained to him that not only should he do a thorough inventory of the area to ensure there is no more moldy cheese on the shelves, but also try to be more cognizant of their obviously faulty refrigeration practices.

Wary of purchasing cheese from Pathmark after my trauma, I began to rely on my tried and true pals at Silver Star just across Nostrand for all my dairy needs (their blissfully fresh mozzarella balls at the appetizing counter are beyond sublime). However, one evening in early May 2010, with no food in the house and Silver Star already closed for the night, I caved and went to Pathmark and, unable to resist the lure of the Dark Side, broke down and purchased one of those bags of shredded cheese, thinking “What could possibly go wrong?”

The next morning, intent on sprinkling some delicious Colby Jack shredded cheese atop my egg whites, I opened the package and stuck my hand in, grabbed a clump, dusted it over my scrambling eggs, and before I sealed the package, blindly grabbed another clump and threw it into my watering cakehole. I honestly don’t remember much after that. I think I may have tried to block it out.

What I do recall was a tsunami-sized wave of disgust washing over me as I desperately tried to extricate from my mouth this oddly disturbing flavor, which is so difficult to put into words. If I had to compare it to something, it might be similar to what I’d imagine a vat of chemically-infused steaming poo in the sewage treatment plant tasting like. Take my word for it, it’s nothing you’d prefer to savor. During the dramatic expulsion of said raw sewage-flavored transmogrified cheese from my maw, and after I took steps to remove the foul tang from out of my mouth, and my mind — because it really was psychologically scarring; even after the flavor is physically gone, it still sticks with you for a while — I did manage to look inside the bag of cheese and, lo and behold, the shreds were all tinged in a sickly blue, and I knew, then, I had been tricked into eating moldy cheese.

As traumatizing as my experience was…and as unenthusiastic as a few of the cashiers have been to me over the years (One actually scolded me, when I decided to purchase some cheapo bath towels, because she had difficulties running it over the scanner: “The next time you want to purchase towels, go to K-Mart!” How does one even begin to respond to something like that?), I never wished for Pathmark’s demise.

And now it is no more.

It is particularly galling for those who (I am assuming) do not live in the area to presuppose that Walmart is the answer. It may be, at another time or place, though some disagree, but not over there. Our elderly neighbors at Seacrest Towers, or residents of the Sheepshead-Nostrand houses, or me, damnit, do not need to buy discount swing sets and patio furniture — we need a supermarket! I don’t even care what kind at this point: D’Agostino, Whole Foods, Steve’s C-Town, King Kullen, Fred Meyer — just clean up the blight in front of the store’s entrance, stock the shelves, and give the people of Sheepshead Bay what they want.

Please… the sooner the better.

Comment policy


  1. Key Food is handy for me. Also, Fresh Direct isn’t that expensive… until you start ordering ridiculous crap you normally wouldn’t get but do because they lure you in like Eve ordering forbidden fruit (because it’s got four stars this week). 

  2. You guys have no idea how much I miss Pathmark! We need gig supermarket in the location. Silver Star, even though a good store is just not cutting the mustard.

    Oh btw I do encourage you to shop at Silver Star, it’s pretty good mom and pop market that has been around the many many year. The only thing that is lacking at Silver Star is large selection.

  3. I would suggest this too. Food Basics (V and Coyle), Key Food (U & Gerritsen), and Kosher Palace (U & 29th) cover whatever you might need that Pathmark carried, and they’re all within reasonable distance. For anything else you can just hit up Stop & Shop. The area is not without supermarkets yet, Erica.

  4. From the pic, you girl dont look like she needs to eat.
    STOP eating, and change the way and what you eat.
    Very soon, you may have diabetes, and other diseases.
    get rid of 50LBS ASAP.
    GO on the SheepShead Bay Bites diet with NED

  5. Can we just talk about how awful the Grand Bazaar on Avenue U and Coney Island Avenue is? I’ve inadvertently purchased stale cereal, moldy sweet potatoes, and freezer-burned frozen yogurt. Not to mention that it barely has any essentials, such as a decent variety of bread — however, there are entirely walls of endless varieties of olive oil, $8 jelly, and expired Russian chocolates. Oh, and house music is constantly blaring.

    Worst supermarket ever. Please, somebody bulldoze it already.

  6.  The girl on the pic MUST get rid of some pounds for HER OWN health.
    Do it for yourself.

    Be the FIRST weight loss champion of sheepshead bay bites

    Change the way you eat,
    do some physical activities

    and you will look even BETTER for what ever is left of summer

  7. I would love halal market. Their price on lamb is usually better than any ware else, I will have access to ghee, whole black paper can be bought at surprisingly lower price than in big chain, sumac will be easily available, finally I would not have to travel to Neptune ave to buy excellent rice, plain yogurt will be available in gigantic jars just the way I like it.
    Should I continue? Well I will not. This thread is not political. It’s about something important, food the only thing I take seriously.

  8. Loved the hairy cheese saga – kinda like food porn for bulemics.

    I’m a Stop & Shop person myself, but I always had Pathmark as a back-up because, unlike Waldbaums, they had mobility scooters for disabled shoppers and I don’t have one of my own.  Now, with Pathmark’s demise, should all three of Stop & Shop’s inadequately maintained scooters malfunction at once, I would have no place to buy my week’s groceries, and, since I currently use Access-a-Ride, would be stranded at S&S until my scheduled return trip or would have to spring for car service.

    Whatever store takes over the Pathmark site, local officials should insist that it have scooters as well as the usual accommodations for disabled patrons required by law and common sense.  The cost of these scooters is self-liquidating due to the substantial buying power of those who use them, and it’s also good public relations to provide them.  Walmart, Target, and other big box stores have them, as do many supermarkets elsewhere in Brooklyn, including the Fairway in Red Hook.  We all need something in that space ASAP to keep the shopping strip viable, but it’s important that the needs of disabled shoppers don’t get lost in the details.   

  9. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long for something to open there again. I remember years ago when they closed Waldbaums on Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, they promised something would take it’s place right away. Nothing ever came of it until over 2 years later. In it’s place a store called Golden Mango. 

  10.  Glad people remembered Food Basics  — I’ve only been there once and found it huge and crowded with food basics. My only complaint is access is barred for wheelchairs & scooters — someone has to get a manager to unlock a gate: to keep shopping carts from wandering off & getting lonely.  

  11. There used to be a small Korean bodega-type place, I think called Rose Grocery, or Rose Deli, right across from Kruger’s office on Avenue U, which had the best feta cheese — fresh, right out of the barrel — I have ever had in my life. After my friend and I learned (to our horror) that they closed, replaced by a law office, we found another place, a Turkish specialty store, on the corner of Ocean & W — awesome feta cheese!

  12. Now there’s a sign that the Citibank ATM location across the street from (the former) Pathmark is closing Aug. 31. Anybody know anything about that?

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