Making People Feel Welcome, One Customer At A Time

source: James Estrin via New York Times

A piece in yesterday’s New York Times featured Nick’s Discount Store, which has been a fixture on Bath Avenue for 17 years.

The article documents how owner Dominick Cavalieri, aka Big Nick, uses a combination of bonhomie and generosity to engage the changing clientele at his combination 99 cent store and deli.

From NY Times:

“You know,” Mr. Cavalieri said with a shrug, “I know people’s problems, and they know mine. It’s not a problem.”
“It’s a problem for me,” Pauly Tagliatele, 26, joked from behind the deli counter. As a teenager, Mr. Tagliatele lasted only one day as an employee at the store, but he came back three years ago to a job as varied as the store’s offerings, doing whatever is necessary to keep customers happy.
These days, having customers to keep happy is the challenge, though. A discount store has to move a lot of merchandise, and making regulars out of new neighbors of Arab and Asian descent has been a challenge. Mr. Cavalieri meets newcomers on the sidewalk, holds barbecues in the summer and distributes candy on Halloween. A beefy friend of his works out front in a Santa costume during the holiday season.
“The first generation is the hardest,” Mr. Cavalieri said. “But you work hard to make people feel welcome. Like part of the neighborhood.”

The shop sells everything from holiday decorations, greeting cards, pet supplies and inexpensive presents to vacuum bags, school supplies and lard roll sandwiches.

During this holiday season, you may want to check out Nick’s or another locally owned business before heading to a larger chain store. Supporting your local main streets helps to keep a higher percentage of what you spend in the neighborhood.

There’s a good chance a ‘mom and pop’ will carry exactly what you need, plus shopping locally can help make running an errand feel more like a social call and less like just another lap in the rat race.

Big Nick’s 99 Cent Discount is located at 1669 Bath Avenue, between 17th Avenue and Bay 14th Street.

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