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What It's Like to Run a Bodega on the Lower East Side

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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. So far, we've covered the East Village and Midtown. Next up: The Lower East Side.

Corner Grocers, which just opened on the corner of Orchard and Rivington on the Lower East Side, is like the Buckingham Palace of bodegas. Not only is the staff extremely friendly, but it is also spotless with endless selection. We tracked down the owner, Raj, and got a very official interview in his new office beneath his bodega.

1) Where are you from?
Bombay, India.

2) How long have you been running this store?
Three months.

3) What are the store hours, and how many hours do you personally work?
The store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I usually work 12 hours a day.

4) What's your most popular item in general? Does it change depending on the time of day?
Deli items are very popular, especially in the mornings and at lunch time. At night, customers like to buy the groceries items we carry. And we also sell a lot of Chobani Yogurt—I think it's because we have all the flavors.

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, they do ask for items that we don't carry. We have a book where customers can write down their requests and phone numbers, and we call them when it becomes available. People usually ask for more healthy choices and more organic food.

6) How much do you charge for cigarettes? What about for an egg and cheese sandwich?
Cigarettes are $12.49 and an egg and cheese sandwich is $2.50.

7) Were you open during Hurricane Irene? If so, was it worth it?
We just opened in January!

8) How do you keep entertained at work? Do you have a favorite TV show or radio station?
We sometimes play the radio, but this is an old building and when we play music our neighbors' floors shake. We're working on fixing that problem.

9) What do you think of Michael Bloomberg?
He has done a fantastic job. He is really helping move the city forward.

10) Tell us your favorite story of something that happened at work—something funny or heartwarming.
Almost everyday a customer tells me "Thank God you're open!" That makes me feel pretty good. —Michelle Persad
· After 30 Years in Midtown, This Bodega Owner Still Likes His Job [Racked NY]
· Survey Says: Beer Is Most Popular At This East Village Bodega [Racked NY]
· Bodega Week 2012

Corner Grocers

140 Orchard St New York, NY 10002