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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, Midtown and The Lower East Side. Next up: Astoria, Queens.
Sion Grocery & Candy Corp sits at the bottom of the platform stairs up to the Ditmars Blvd stop at the tip of the N and Q lines. As a result, it's often the first (or last) stop of the day for people, the great majority of whom are longtime neighborhood residents on their way to work in Manhattan. Less a bodega and more a convenience store with benefits, it does stock a lot of candy. We caught up with both the owner, Ali, and the new hire Ahmed, for a little insight on Astoria.
1) Where are you from?
2) How long have you been running this store?
Ali: "Always, it seems" Ahmed: "I've only been here two weeks."
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'm always busy with customers, so I work a lot.
4) What's your most popular item in general? Does it change depending on the time of day?
Cigarettes, newspapers, things like that. There's no change at different times of day?we have what people always want.
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?
We're straightforward, so there's no odd requests. Maybe different yogurts or other foreign papers. Those come up.
6) How much do you charge for cigarettes? What about for an egg and cheese sandwich?
Cigarettes are $11.40 and we don't do egg and cheese sandwiches.
7) Were you open during Hurricane Irene? If so, was it worth it?
No, we closed. There were warnings and we had to listen to the news.
8) How do you keep entertained at work? Do you have a favorite TV show or radio station?
I only watch the customers and people walking by.
9) What do you think of Michael Bloomberg?
He's okay. He's good. I don't have a larger opinion of him than that.
10) Tell us your favorite story of something that happened at work—something funny or heartwarming.
You'd be surprised, but nothing out of the ordinary happens here. It's always like this [waves hand to indicate the store, but the whole of the area as well]. People have asked me if I'd like to sell the business (to them), but I say no. I like that it's always like this.
· What's It Like to Run a Bodega on the Lower East Side [Racked NY]
· 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