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Hallmark to Close, Neighboring Grocery Store to Expand

Shop Smart Food Market, located at 238 Prospect Park West, will be expanding by an additional 2,000 feet this spring.

Windsor Terrace is one step closer to again having a functional supermarket—thanks not to any yielding by Walgreens, but to a neighborhood greeting card store. 

After more than 27 years in business, C.V. Hallmark, located at 236 Prospect Park West, is closing up shop, making way for the expansion of the Shop Smart Food Mart located next door.

The market will be increasing its offering of fresh produce and meat—everything the community lamented losing when Prospect Avenue's Key Food shuttered in June, owner Samee Tharm told Patch on Monday.

“Everyone requested it,” Tharm said of his decision to beef up his space at 238 Prospect Park West, adding that he expects the new addition to be completed by March or April. 

Diane Larkin, who along with her brother Alfred Bahna has owned the Hallmark since 1986, said the decision to fold was made after news that Walgreens would be moving into the neighborhood.  

The store’s last day in business day will be Feb. 28.

“Walgreens sells Hallmark cards, they sell the candy, they sell the gifts,” she said. “It’s going to be very difficult for us to compete with that.”

So when Tharm offered to lease the roughly 2,000-foot space to expand his grocery operation, Larkin said she and Bahna knew they would be martyring their beloved business to a worthy cause.

“The neighborhood needs a supermarket, and next door wants to expand their supermarket,” she said.  

Along with the incoming competition, Larkin also cited rising costs as the reason for the greeting card shop’s departure. She said the decision to close up after so many years has been hard to swallow.

"We’ve seen a lot of changes. We’ve gone through a lot of different things with the neighborhood. I raised my children in this store," she said.

Though Larkin, who has lived in the same 11th Avenue home since 1978, plans to remain in Windsor Terrace and continue her other job as a teacher, she said she will miss playing such an active role in the community. 

“We’ve been here for so long. We really love the neighborhood, we love the community and the people,” she said.

“It’s going to be very difficult.” 

Dave January 08, 2013 at 01:24 AM
That's really too bad... Hallmark was such a nice store with great owners. And will the expansion of Shop Smart really fill the grocery gap left by the departure of Key Food? Seems like it will be just another larger-than-normal bodega, and there's already one of those on the corner of Windsor and PPW (P&E Grocery), and two other bodegas a block away. This seems to be a bigger loss than gain.
J.T Galla January 08, 2013 at 02:30 PM
TOO BAD FOR W.T. AGAIN. A SIGN OF THE TIMES. SHOP SMART? MY EXPERIENCES THERE; THE PLACE IS GROSS. GOT BAD GAS 2 x's FROM THEIR SANDWICHES. I'D BE VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT BUYING ANYTHING FROM THERE, ESPECIALLY 'FRESH ' FOODS. DONT'T SHOP STUPID !
Dudley Escobar January 08, 2013 at 07:50 PM
CAPS LOCK. USE IT.
Dudley Escobar January 08, 2013 at 07:55 PM
This neighborhood will never be happy. Key Food closes? "We *deserve* a grocery store!" Walgreen's suggests they may put in a produce aisle after the neighborhood demands it? "It won't be good enough." Small neighborhood store going to expand? "I'm gassy and I am going to say so in all capital letters." Utterly useless Hallmark store closing? "Oh, what a pity. Where will I get my mylar balloons now?" Seriously, you people are ridiculous. Just stop complaining about everything, all of the time.
Gersh Kuntzman January 09, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Lauren Evans has done it again! This story is important to all of Windsor Terrace. For years, I've been saying, "When is that lame Hallmark store, which is a relic of the 1970s (remember stamps?), going to close?" Finally, it has closed. I don't wish anyone bad will -- and I don't like any business to fail -- but if we're going to be capitalists, the market has to be allowed to function. We need a supermarket. We also need (in no particular order) another family restaurant (no offense, Enzo's), another good bar, a good sandwich shop, a real ethnic restaurant, and immediate repairs to the brick sidewalks, which look nice, but are constantly making me trip and fall.
Jack Cressman January 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM
What a shame that this store is closing. Obviously people like this Gersh have no idea what community really means. This store is a beacon of Christian values and fair play and has done so much for the community like signing children up for the sports program and even teaching children with autism life skills. That is not LAME Gersh it is human. See if a bar or restaurant will do that!
Kevin Lustgarten III January 11, 2013 at 01:42 AM
I agree with MR Cressman. This hallmark store has been there for 27 years and it is clear that this Gersh character is not literate enough to understand that these people are pillars of the community. He comments on stamps and is also disrespecting the post office as well. Remember Ben Franklin is on the 100 dollar bill Gersh and not you as he was the 1st postmaster general. Hallmark has also been around for over 100 years and has employed thousands of people. President Obama uses Hallmark stationary to write "Personal Letters" You are LAME Gersh." Move out and have a Hipster Cupcake somewhere far from out "Community."
Florence Schwartz January 11, 2013 at 01:57 AM
I don't know who Gersh is but he is clearly a jerk. If he falls on a brick sidewalk and gets hurt then I will bet the house that the people of Hallmark will be the first ones to help him. They are aces. Another thing. The store is not closed yet and will be open for another 2 months. I plan on getting all my Valentines stuff there as usual to help support the good people that they are. How dare you Gersh say anything cross about people who have spent a career doing good in our hometown. What have you done except slight decent people. You are what makes this changing neighborhood not what it is but what it isn't.
Hajji okiy January 11, 2013 at 02:03 AM
People should support this store while it is still there and wish these people well. They will be sorely missed and are the farthest thing from lame or relic.
Barry Hershbower January 11, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Congratulations Gersh! Remember the old Bill Gallo cartoons with the hero and the goat? Guess which one you are! That hallmark saved my bacon many a day. I always said that if I won the lottery it would be where I would work. A really classy store and very special people. Let's face it anything printed is in jeopardy these days. The only thing that is not in short supply are fools like Gersh whats his name.
Dudley Escobar January 11, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Except...Gersh is right. If the store truly did provide so much value to the neighborhood, then it wouldn't be closing. Sure, maybe the owners are good people and maybe they've done good for people. But it's a *store*, people. A store that sells greeting cards and balloons. And not even successfully, judging by the fact that it's closing before Walgreen's has even started construction. The owner didn't die and it doesn't even appear he's moving away. He can remain a pillar of the community without continuing to run his failing and mostly useless business. Frankly, considering the personal attacks you're all making on Gersh for simply stating his opinion, I think you all could learn a lesson from the supposedly nice people at the Hallmark store. It looks to me like you're being the real jerks here.
Wilem Watkins January 12, 2013 at 07:43 AM
This message is for Dudley and Gersh. Firstly let me set you straight. This wonderful store isn't useless or a relic and is not a failing business as you say.It has been around for 27 count them years. That adds up to a success to me. Let's see you and gersh run a place for that long. I know these people and they are only stepping aside because the business climate is changing. Even Barnes and Noble will be closing stores soon and Newsweek just printed its last print issue this week. These people are going voluntarily and not because they are failing get that straight. Secondly you and Gersh obviously don't have children or an elderly parent who shops in the neighborhood . This store is classified as a safe haven. Yes they will be pillars after the store closes but the neighborhood will lose that service; do you finally get it. Would you want your child running into a bar if they were being attacked or bullied on the street. You two are just the left and right cheek of an ass.
Charles Davison January 12, 2013 at 08:04 AM
Bravo. I agree. The store was a success. Too bad these two hipsters failed home economics and need so many places to eat as is evidenced by that gross picture of gersh.
cindy s January 12, 2013 at 01:40 PM
stop wasting your time on these 2 morons. they obviously have nothing better to do than to fill their stomachs and complain about what they don't have. I would bet they consider the old people in the neighborhood to be useless relics as well. I I think it's a shame that hallmark is closing. those people have done so much good in the neighborhood and many of us will miss the store.
Dudley Escobar January 12, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Ad hominem attacks are the last resort of those who can't otherwise form cogent arguments. You are all calling me names and you don't know me or anything about me. I failed "home economics"? You mean the class where they teach you to cook and sew? Yes, failing that class would definitely cause me to not understand how businesses work. Good one. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. You can all call me a moron while you use poor grammar and bad punctuation, but it doesn't change the fact that the sad little store is closing because it can't compete. Good riddance.
John Trebinsky January 12, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Poor Dudley! I gues he got no hallmark cards growin up. Hows mi punktuation? Clearly an overeducated snob
Rachelle Mealy January 13, 2013 at 03:56 AM
OK people let's stop the hostility. I have been reading all these posts and it is clear to me that most people out there love this Hallmark store. I have just moved into the neighborhood and consider myself neutral but I have one observation to make and it is that Dudley and Gersh seem to hate this store for no reason at all and for some reason keep saying that it can't compete when 1010 Wins reported that the store was going voluntarily. I have been in there once and really liked it and know that they have a relative who owns the property so competing is not even part of the equation. They are doing the standup thing and doing one more thing for a neighborhood that they love. If they were selfish they would just exist there. Kudos to the Hallmark People.
Dudley Escobar January 13, 2013 at 01:57 PM
"Along with the incoming competition, Larkin also cited rising costs as the reason for the greeting card shop’s departure. She said the decision to close up after so many years has been hard to swallow." How in anyone's world does that sound like they're leaving voluntarily, or doing this as a favor to the neighborhood? What fantasyland do you people live in? I don't hate the store. I am mostly indifferent, except for the fact that I'll be much happier to have another option for more groceries in the neighborhood. And if you actually read what I and Gersh wrote, we were not the ones who commenced hostilities here. All we did was state our opinions about how we're happy about this change. I even conceded that the owners were probably good people, considering how well liked they are in the 'hood, but that the likability of the owners isn't often what matters for the ability of a business to succeed. Then we were called: The left and right cheek of an ass Hipsters Morons Overeducated snob It's like junior high in here. I'm surprised nobody has threatened me yet, or suggested we meet outside the Hallmark store to fight. Whatever. I don't even know why I'm responding to you people. You're all ridiculous.
Adam Vergogna January 15, 2013 at 03:53 AM
One more commment to chime in. Sometimes there comes a time when great things must move on. Whether it is a President or a Ballplayer or even a Hallmark Store. Thanks Hallmark for 27 "Great" years.
ABC123 January 16, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Don't know how you define ethnic, but Bedawi Cafe has fabulous Middle Eastern food. Regarding this issue. I sincerely hope they step up their game. I have looked at Shop Smart's fresh meat and veggies and not purchased it because it didn't look good. Fresh goods are all about turnover. If people are buying more, the owners buy more, and more variety. It becomes a feedback loop. And if nobody buys... it becomes a feedback loop in a negative way. I don't know, even with the more space from he Hallmark store, and I'm sorry to see any business have to close, I don't know whether they'll have enough space to truly be a full service grocer. I truly wish them luck though and I will check them out because we need the grocery. And buses and taxis are a pain in the &xx every week to shop.
Gersh Kuntzman January 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Why does everyone have to be so mean? I love our neighborhood, but changing demographics require changing merchants. That's all I was saying. All I said was we need a good supermarket -- and that makes me a hipster? I didn't say we needed a Union Market. Just give me a Key Food! That said, I admit to liking cupcakes -- but so do kids of all ages across the great land of ours.
Kara McIntosh January 17, 2013 at 03:35 AM
You again? You are the mean one Gersh. That is not what you said. You seem to have a short memory so go back and read your ugly comments. Maybe you should give the people at Hallmark an apology. You called the store "lame" too. You are lame Gersh and so is that jerk Dudley.
J.T Galla January 20, 2013 at 04:15 AM
personally,i have no intention of shopping stupid @ wallgreens or that dirty bodega shop smart. it would be counterproductive to all the effort to get a really good supermarket ,which you're not going to get from the wallgreens offering.we/ll get a supermarket of sorts but with 1/2 the space @ inflated prices to pay the rent to wallgreens corp! people seem to forget that despite their media hype,wallgreens business model is to put all mom & pop stores out of business that compete with them in product lines. it's known as the 'winner takes all' economy. the rest of you hostile types can duke it out on 9th av .if you can't find anyone to take you on , i'll be glad to oblige !
Ladydi69126 January 23, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Cindy yes you are so right about the elderly being disrespected. My own elderly mother was told didn't she think it was time to move when she told one of these hipster idiots about how long she lived there. He was lucky i was not there! He would have gotten an old fashioned Brooklyn Beat down from me. I told my mother just clobber them with your cane next time anyone has something rude to say

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