Many East Rockaway, Oceanside and Island Park residents have been getting their groceries from the Best Market on Atlantic Avenue in East Rockaway since the family-owned company took over the Pathmark location in 2016.
“They have a bigger selection than Pathmark ever did,” said Diana Lebitsch, an East Rockaway resident who was purchasing chicken from the grocery store on Nov. 30.
But in 2019, the grocery store will once again be under new ownership. Lidl US announced in November that it would acquire 24 Best Market stores on Long Island, including the one in East Rockaway. It is part of the German-based company’s effort to expand its regional presence.
“We are excited to expand into many great communities on Long Island and across the New York City area and introduce more customers to our simple and efficient approach to grocery shopping, which will mean high quality and huge savings for more shoppers,” Johannes Fieber, the chief executive officer of Lidl US, said in a statement.
Under the new ownership, Lidl US will introduce its private brands and will remove the store’s deli and meat departments as the company moves toward more pre-packaged goods, according to William Harwood, the director of communications for Lidl US.
Those departments are major draws to the supermarket, several shoppers said on Nov. 30. “The meat department, the fish department and the produce are better than all the other supermarkets,” said Gail Weintraub, an Island Park resident who travels to the Best Market for her produce.
Still, Weintraub said she would “give it a shot” and Lebitsch said she would try the store under its new ownership in 2019.
“If it doesn’t work out, people won’t come here,” Lebitsch said.
For the employees, the change is both “a little nerve-wracking” and exciting, according to Dan Springstein, a Lynbrook resident who works as an assistant front-end manager at the East Rockaway store.
“This company’s bigger than Best Market on Long Island ever was, so that means more job opportunities,” he explained.
Despite Springstein’s optimism, Lidl has earned a grim reputation in Europe for abusive labor practices. In fact, a book compiling workers’ hardships was published in 2006, entitled “The Blackbook on Lidl in Europe: Schwarz Retail Company: Selling Cheap at the Employee’s Expense.” In the U.S., however, there have been no reports of labor abuse by the company.
Store renovations are set to begin before the summer.