Nov. 19, 2015 By Michael Florio
An Astoria convenience store is branching out and opening numerous shops in the neighborhood, starting Thursday on Steinway Street.
Alpha-Mart, which first opened at 35-06 35th St. in 2013, is planning to open four new shops by the end of 2015 and 10 total by next spring, according to Alpha-Mart CEO Shahid Sarwar.
The newest shop is set to open today at 30-08 Steinway St., near 30th Ave.
The shop will offer the usual items found in a convenience store, such as chips, candy and a wide variety of drinks, including coffee and milk shakes. However, the shop will also offer financial services as the shop on 35th Street has a Western Union and the Steinway Street location will have a MoneyGram. These services will allow customers to send or receive money, purchase money orders and even pay their bills, Sarwar said.
The shop will also sell T-Mobile SIM cards and accessories.
“We are a one-stop shop,” Sarwar said.
Sarwar said his shops will stand out because they are more upscale and modern than the typical convenience store.
“Most convenience stores are run down and ratty,” he said.
Sarwar, who lives in Woodside, said he decided to open in Astoria because of the heavy foot traffic.
“It has the most foot traffic of any neighborhood in Queens,” he said.
However, he added that his shops are a good fit for the neighborhood.
“Astoria residents appreciate and understand branding,” he said. “In other neighborhoods people will just go in for a drink, or a cup of coffee and don’t understand brands.”
“But in Astoria people understand brands and they want a clean store with all their services under one roof,” he added.
He added that his shop on 35th Street has been very popular and the customers are fans of the upscale feeling of the shop and the professionalism of the workers.
Sarwar also plans to open a shop at 38-05 Broadway, just off of Steinway Street, and at 33-17 36th Ave. before Christmas. He added that he is hoping to open a shop on Ditmars Boulevard by the end of the year, but did not disclose a specific location.
He plans on “owning at least 10 shops” in the neighborhood by the spring of 2016. The locations of those additional shops have not yet been determined.
“All the shops will be called Alpha-Mart and will be the same orange and white colors,” Sarwar said.
Sarwar said once he has these 10 Astoria locations under control he plans on expanding to Brooklyn and Manhattan. He will consider franchising at that point.
While Sarwar said he did not move into Astoria to compete with local convenience stores or chains such as 7-Eleven or Duane Reade, he believes he will stand out against both.
“Customers don’t go to CVS or Duane Reade just to buy a drink,” he said. “Our prices are better than the large companies.”
More information on the company is available online here.