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We gave the same ten-question survey to bodega owners and staffers all around the city in order to come up with a snapshot of corner-store life in different neighborhoods. What does an egg and cheese sandwich cost in midtown versus in Williamsburg? Who has the craziest customers? Tune in each day for answers from a new area. First up: The East Village.
There are a ton of bodegas in the East Village, but it seemed appropriate to focus on one that sits at the place Seinfeld famously named "the Nexus of the Universe." Read on for survey answers from a counter man at First & First Finest Deli, located at 1st Street and First Avenue.
1) Where are you from?
2) How long have you been running this store?
I don't run the store, I'm just an employee, but I've been working here for four years.
3) What are the store hours, and how many hours do you personally work?
The store is open 24 hours a day, but I only work 30hrs/week.
4) What's your most popular item in general? Does it change depending on the time of day?
Coffee is the most popular item in the morning and beer is the most popular item at night.
5) Do shoppers ever ask you to carry items that you're not currently selling? What's the most popular kind of request? What's the funniest?
Yes, people ask us to carry things we aren't currently selling all the time, especially juice—fancy juice. And it's usually juice that nobody cares about, but the customers swear it will be popular and sell. Once we order it, it usually just sits on the shelf.
6) How much do you charge for cigarettes? What about for an egg and cheese sandwich?
Cigarettes are $12.95 and an egg and cheese sandwich is $3.27, but it includes a free coffee.
7) Were you open during Hurricane Irene? If so, was it worth it?
Yes, we were open before and during Hurricane Irene. Before the hurricane there was a mad rush for supplies which left our shelves empty. The water and candles were the first to go. During the hurricane we were not busy at all. The streets were completely deserted.
8) How do you keep entertained at work? Do you have a favorite TV show or radio station?
To keep busy I talk with my co-worker. We also always listen to 92.3 NOW.
9) What do you think of Michael Bloomberg?
I have no opinion.
10) Tell us your favorite story of something that happened at work—something funny or heartwarming.
Well, we have this one customer who comes in about two or three times a week. Sometimes she will come in screaming and other times she comes in and is so friendly and normal. It's the weirdest thing. Like in the morning she will come in and yell at everyone and then later that afternoon she will come in and be very peaceful and sweet, saying things like "Jesus is good." So she always makes for a good story. Oh, and one time we had this customer who complained that her brownie tasted like cheese—but she had bought a cheesecake brownie!—Michelle Persad
· All Bodega Week 2012 coverage [Racked NY]