Fleischmanns Supermarket boosts inventory

By Pauline Liu
At the Fleischmanns Supermarket on Main Street in Fleischmanns, there are signs of change. The store shelves, that were not always full before, are now packed with groceries. There’s plenty of pet foods, organic bread and even a large shelf full of over-the-counter medications. 
 “We’ve increased inventory by 40 percent,” explained storeowner Naran “Lalo” Patel. “More meat, more produce, more dairy products. Right now, we are a full-line grocery store, since there is no big supermarket around here. We’ve tried to do the best to help the local community.”    

Dramatic changes
Patel acknowledges that last August’s flood has changed his mom-and-pop business dramatically.  The floodwaters of Tropical Storm Irene filled the front of his supermarket and forced the Patels to shut down for a few days in order to clean up. “I lost $30,000 worth of inventory,” said Patel. “I had no flood insurance, so I’m not going to get that money back.”
Some of his regular Fleischmanns customers have simply disappeared. Patel realizes that many lost their homes in the flood and were forced to move. “About 20 regular customers are no longer here and each one shopped for an entire family, so 20 families are gone,” he said sadly.

Gaining new patrons
While Patel has lost many Fleischmanns customers due to the flood, he has gained new ones from the surrounding community.
“Some people that I see are from Arkville, Roxbury, Halcottsville and Margaretville,” he said. “When I see new customers, I ask them where they are from.”
Whether they are from near or far, his customers appreciate the fact that Patel has been able to keep his supermarket open.

Loves shopping there
“I love this store,” said Jen Biruk of Halcottsville, as she carried an armload of groceries to the checkout. “I stop it once a week.  He didn’t have taters two days ago. Now he does. He sold out, so he’s doing good,” she said as she went back for a bag of potatoes.
Marie Landriscina of Fleischmanns is another regular customer.
“He carries fruits, vegetables and bread, which is great, because there’s nobody else around and he has a little bit of everything,” she said.
Many customers holler his name as they enter. “Hey La-Loo!” they yelled. Patel waves back in acknowledgement. “They call me La-Loo, La-Le, LuLu,” Patel said with a good-natured shrug. “It’s a nickname that my parents gave me as a child. I don’t know what it means.”      

Purchased in 2005
Patel and his family are originally from Gujarat, India. He bought the supermarket in 2005, moving here from San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Manisha, and their two children, Nikita and Kush. The children attend Margaretville Central School.  How did Patel find his way to Fleischmanns? “People said this was a good store, those people were my Indian friends and when I bought it, it was a good store,” he said. “But now, a lot of people in Fleischmanns are gone,” chimed in one customer. “Yes,” answered Patel.
Most of the inventory sold at the Fleischmanns Supermarket is trucked in from New York City and New Jersey. Patel explained, if business improves, he can provide his customers with discounts.

Better pricing
‘“Right now, we don’t have that many people around here in Fleischmanns,” he said. “If I buy big volume, I can get a better discounts and I can pass along the savings to my customers. You get a better price for the local community.”  
The Fleischmanns Supermarket is located at 1050 Main Street and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call at 254-4919.