Letters to the editor, Feb. 8

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fruit, family and sacrifice

Adjacent to the Chase branch at the corner of First Avenue and 23rd Street an about 45-year-old man stands in front of a cart and sells the most delectable produce available in the area — at about half the cost which supermarkets and stores price them.

His name is Quddus and he is from Bangladesh. His fruit and vegetable enterprise is open from about 7:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. I have purchased his goods for a long time. This past Friday I bought 10 bananas, two pounds of green grapes, a carton of snow white mushrooms and a box of red ripe tomatoes. The cost: seven dollars.

Always polite but not effusive, if I don’t have cash because I have come to use my debit/credit card when buying almost anything, he trusts me. Working seven days a week, about 80 hours. Wow! I couldn’t even do it for one day. I wondered why he does this. So on Friday I said, “Do you have any children?” and “Do they go to school?” “Yes, one boy attends Queens College; the other is a senior in high school.”

I queried him because I suspected that by working so many hours, this was in pursuit of a goal beyond himself. I may have surprised him when I offered the following: “You know that they will never fully appreciate what you are doing for them.” He didn’t respond as he just filled two bags with my requests. And I gave him the seven dollars.

What was my motivation in commenting as I did? It was due to my own experience and observing other families. My mother who became a widow when I was 10 went back to work so that my brother and I would be able to attend college. And it was only when following her passing at age 88 that I fully recognized her significant sacrifice.

This seems to represent a pattern with the lives of children as they mature into adulthood… Eventually their parents die… It is then that they demonstrate such feelings. Something to ponder.

David Chowes, PCV

When stores won’t redeem bottles

To the Editor,

I would like advise neighbors about a very troubling situation at Gracefully, which is the nearest specialty grocery to our community of 25,000. I urge everyone not to shop at Gracefully until the store makes a pledge to obey state law about redeeming bottles for the 5-cent deposit.

I recently bought some of the “craft beer” sold at Gracefully at 314 First Avenue. A week later, I brought the six bottles back to Gracefully for the 5-cent deposit back. I asked the first woman at the counter where I could return the bottles. She shook her head, “no.”  I said, “What do you mean, ‘no’?” The woman shook her head again and said “We don’t do that.”

I said to the second woman, “I’m here to redeem these bottles, which I bought here.” She shook her head and said, “no.” I said, “Let me talk to the manager.”

I then had a long discussion with the manager, and he ultimately agreed to take the bottles back and give me a nickel for each of them.

A few days later, I bought another six-craft beer. On February 1, I brought back the six bottles. The first woman at the store said no. The second woman said no. The third just shook her head and pretended not to speak English. There was no manager on duty, so I was ultimately not able to return these bottles.

I phoned 311 and registered a complaint against Gracefully. Under the New York Returnable Container Law (enacted in 1982, nearly 36 years ago) “a consumer can return empty containers to any store or vendor that sells the same type of container.”

I urge all of my fellow residents not to shop at Gracefully until it comes into compliance with the law.

Name withheld, ST

Town & Village reached out to Gracefully, and a man who introduced himself as Shin, the manager, said he remembered the customer. Shin added that he wasn’t sure which cashier refused the customer’s refund the second time, but said he has told the cashiers to take bottles back for deposits and that he would make sure the weekend cashiers are trained to do this as well. “I’m sorry this happened, but I’ll keep training the people,” he said.

11 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Feb. 8

  1. Thank you for the story about the gentleman and his cart at First Ave and Twenty-third Street. I plan to shop there today based on that posting.

  2. Their prices are good at the carts, but I’ll only buy the bananas, sometimes avocados, as the produce sold on the outdoor carts are not organic, most of the time. Once, a few years ago, a cart uptown on the East Side had boxes of raspberries with Driscoll’s organic labels. They looked counterfeit, to me, as the labels were faded and something about the printing was off. I didn’t buy them. Bless the man about whom the contributor wrote. I won’t willingly ingest pesticides. They’re killing off the honeybees, and a lot of people in the vendor’s original country, on the farms (and on other countries’ farms where these are used).

  3. Most of the fruit at those stands is from South America where the use of pesticides is still common. Buyer beware.

  4. Slash

    With all due respect concerning reply let me respond: all of the branded products which are sold by the man outside of Chase they are packed and have the same logo as the produce sold in other stores.

    For example Dole and Del Monte and …
    So if one claims that the foods sold by this man are tainted by their South American origin.

    What’s the difference between his produce and that sold at Morton Williams or Gristedes?

    I’m curious to receive your response.

    • The difference is his produce is most likely from South America and most likely has some form of pest control product on/in it. I am sure that the stickers on his fruit make them real. Just like one can get a Louis Vuitton bag or an Izod polo shirt or dozens of other designer goods (with legitimate stickers) at a fraction of the cost in Chinatown. You’re right as usual. My bad!

        • More like an educated guess. Sort of like the speculation that the Rolex watch I was offered for $50.00 on 23rd street recently was either fake or stolen. Either way I stayed away. More power to you and your fruit man. After all someone’s got to eat it or the poor man will have to do something else. Enjoy your possibly not contaminated fruit.

  5. Thank you to the Town & Village for contacting the staff at Gracefully and investigating the situation. It is wonderful that our hometown newspaper takes such a sincere interest in what happens in our communities.

    Too many people feel that honoring the New York Bottle Laws is “optional” in some way. We can only reduce the trash in our environment if we all work together to keep the rate of garbage down. The staff at Gracefully and the other stores in our neighborhood have an opportunity to be good neighbors. Let’s see if they honor these redemptions.

    Merrill Steinmetz

  6. Gracefully

    The food sold at Gracefully is always of the highest quality.

    The prices charged are the highest in all three locations: two on First Avenue around Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town and a third on the West Side.

    Critisms: l am generally cynical concering words like “organic” and “natural.”
    Also many who are employed by Gracefully lack politness and grace. I once asked for change and the cashier wouldn’t do it. I asked the manager and he was beyond rude.

    So l said that l would never shop there again!

    But l couldn’t keep my promise because the call of their delicious New. England clam chowder was.far too overpowering!

  7. Slash”s most recent response

    Some of the individual branded items of produce have on each inward item the logo sticker o.one on each piece of critical. For example not only on the plays bag bus a tiny logo on each banana whether del Monte or dole or some other well known brand sold at any other store.

    Think about the huge amount of money and time it would consume to do that!


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