What was life like after Sandy knocked Fairway out of commission? “I felt like a wandering Jew,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, speaking to the throng gathered in front of the Red Hook grocery store. “For four months…wandering from store to store to store.” Fortunately for the borough president and for Brooklyn, the days of fruitless wandering are over. Fairway is back in Red Hook!
Senator Charles Schumer, a Brooklyn resident himself, said that the re-opening of Fairway was a “great day for Brooklyn, a great day for Red Hook, a great day for New York, a great day for America, a great day for Fairway.” He joked that Fairway was his favorite supermarket, but even if he couldn’t really take sides, for political reasons, there was no doubt that this was about more than the baguette samples, but about Brooklyn unity and Red Hook pride.
Speaking of Red Hook pride, the crowd that showed up to welcome the store back was enormous. There were lines to get in, and tons of faces there to see the latest representative of the borough, Brooklyn’s own Miss America, Mallory Hagan at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This is my home,” she said, talking about Brooklyn. “This is where I consider my home.”
There was plenty of Fairway pride on display as well, which they earned. After all, not a single person who was a Red Hook Fairway employee missed a day of work post-Sandy; they were employed all across Fairways in New York.
“They [Fairway] care about the community they serve,” said Markowtiz, addressing how Fairway made it a point to keep the Red Hook employees working after Sandy devastated their homes.
Some of the employees who could take a moment to talk mentioned how some commutes to places like Long Island were rough (but Fairway ensured a bus service), some were not so rough (in Manhattan), but it felt good to be back in their home borough of Brooklyn.
But above all, this was an enormous moment for Red Hook. Red Hook had been incredibly devastated after Sandy, and the re-opening of a major fixed point like Fairway was symbolic.
“Today’s opening is a metaphor,” Senator Schumer said. “This is not just the reopening of a store, but the reopening of a neighborhood. Red Hook is back and open for business.” He had a point – it wasn’t just Fairway that was open for business. Inside of the store, vendors were selling t-shirts to support local businesses, a reminder that this wasn’t about an enormous chain dominating a neighborhood, but about a neighborhood regaining its vitality.
The store itself, is huge, aisle after aisle of top-tier products. And while Fairway isn’t as cheap as say, Trader Joe’s, the samples are better. Tapenade and olive oil samples, free coffee from the giant coffee grinder and fresh fruit jam and peanut butter samples, too. All in all, enough to get you a free lunch! Plus, everyone who came to the grand opening got a big bag of swag with products ranging from Clif bars to a Passover Haggadah, all in a complimentary Fairway bag.
The shopping cart traffic was a little insane, which makes sense considering how long people were waiting for this, so maybe the best time to go would be next week. But even with the traffic, customers and employees alike were thrilled to be roaming the aisles of beautiful zucchinis and trail mixes and fresh baked bread. There was a unanimous sense of, relief and also hunger.
In the end, there was only one minor quibble to be had with the entire day.
“Brooklyn needs another Fairway,” Markowitz joked.