When news broke the day after Thanksgiving that the beloved Greenpoint market The Garden had closed after 25 years in the neighborhood, many people reached out to Greenpointers asking what could be done to help the former employees and how to contact them to send their regards.
And while a new grocery store, “Downtown Market,” opened Wednesday at the home of the shuttered Garden with many of the former staff from the prepared foods section, there are other former employees who are not returning to work at the new store for various reasons.
The following is an account of Greenpoint resident Susanna Bertuzzi, who like many former regular customers, cherishes the relationships she and her son had with The Garden’s staff.
Bertuzzi, with the verification of Greenpointers and former Garden staff, set up a local P.O. Box (address below) for customers to send cards, well-wishes and whatever else they would like to give to former employees as a thank you during this holiday season:
I have been living in Greenpoint for over five years and have shopped at The Garden supermarket for just as long. I was shocked when they shuttered their doors without notice last week and felt immediate grief and concern for the employees who became part of my daily shopping experience there.
Two years ago my son was born and he started joining me on my shopping trips. I spent most mornings there with him in his stroller using The Garden as his first school– I taught him the names and colors of produce, we picked out tea varieties together, perused the natural cleaning supplies and beauty products, discussed pierogi flavors, and negotiated over how many types of cheese to buy on any given day.
More importantly, we had these discussions and lessons alongside many smiling and engaging employees who within months were on a first-name basis with my son. The Garden employees would stop their work to ask my son how he was doing, give him high fives, and listen to him babble and eventually start speaking and addressing them by their own names — they were our friends.
Beata behind the dry-goods station would tell us about her mom, son, and daughter and always remembered various details from our daily lives. Oscar in the dairy section would give my son fist bumps and tell him about playing music at the local cathedral. While managing the inventory, Floori would greet us with his infectious smile and move any packages that were blocking the aisles. The multiple staff behind the deli counter would happily wrap our chicken in a plastic bag to protect the base of the stroller where I stored my shopping items.
The always friendly clerks and managers near the registers, some of whom included Joanna, Gosia, Magda, Pata, Daya, Jada, and Kelly, were the true lifeblood of the store. With a smile, one or more of them would always rush to hold the door open for us as we entered and exited. They would pile-up behind one another as we checked out and quiz my son on the items in our cart. They brought out his biggest smile and most flirtatious gaze.
On our last visit to the store, Magda helped us check-out. I was touched when she told me she had seen a winter hat that she wanted to buy for my son. I’ll cherish her cooking and parenting tips and remember her as an omniscient mother and grandmother.
The hardworking staff at The Garden treated so many of us as friends and family and were important contributors to our community. I miss seeing and hearing from each and every one of them.
After seeing the love letters on the store’s shutters and reading the concerned commentary left on the Greenpointer’s Instagram account, I contacted the former manager about coordinating a holiday card drive for the former staff. Any letters of gratitude, well wishes, job leads, or gifts for the former staff can be mailed to the address below. Please do not mail cash. The former manager will distribute correspondences to the staff after the New Year.
Recipient’s Name or Job Title
P.O. Box 220093
Brooklyn, NY 11222