Polish-American businesses spring up in boroughs

From Nowy Dziennik:

Polish neighborhoods in New York City have recently attracted a large number of non-Polish Americans who moved in and opened businesses. But Polish-American entrepreneurs are not giving up, and new Polish owned businesses are springing up in Greenpoint, Ridgewood and Maspeth.

In Greenpoint, Polish business names can sometimes be misleading. Biedronka, which translates to lady bug, has been operating since October 2010. And Zabka, which translates to little frog has been going since July 2011. Both sell Polish grocery products, but are not owned by Poles.

“I opened the stores because I know there are a lot of Poles in Greenpoint and they are interested in buying Polish food,” says Palestine born Ammar Awawdeh, owner of both stores. “Since many Poles are moving from Greenpoint to Ridgewood, I may open another location there,” he adds.

On the other hand,  Charlotte Patisserie coffee and pastry shop, is a Polish-owned business on 596 Manhattan Ave. “It is a Polish business, but with French pastries. We offer coffee, tea, cakes and cookies,” says Magda Lechowicz, who runs the store with her brother Michal.

A new hair and beauty salon Freckle Skin and Hair opened at 154 Nassau Avenue last October. “I had no doubts starting a business in Greenpoint,” says Anna Siemieniaka, owner of the salon. “This is a dynamically developing neighborhood which is becoming more and more popular. I wanted to prove that not only in Manhattan one can find a good hair expert or a beautician, and that Greenpoint can also offer high class beauty services.”

In Ridgewood and Maspeth, where the Polish community has been settling in recent years, new businesses are also springing up. Some of them are branches of Greenpoint firms or stores, like cosmetics supply store Stokrotka, which has already had one location in Greenpoint and last summer opened another one at Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood.

“There were no cosmetics stores with a wide variety in this area,” says store attendant Marta Prymak. She adds that Stokrotka is the only location in Ridgewood where one can buy perfume.

Also Chopin Chemist pharmacy opened a branch in Fresh Pond Road in March last year. “We are constantly expanding,” says Kasia Cudnik, manager. “We used to offer only cosmetics and over the counter drugs, but recently we added a section with prescription drugs,” she says, adding that in spite of competition in the market she remains positive.

Two years ago, also at Fresh Pond Road, a new coffee shop Społem was founded. “Ridgewood is home for the second largest Polish community in New York, so it seemed like a perfect location. However, there are now many non-Poles among our clients,” says owner Przemek. “We are moving forward, although not as fast as we would wish to. Maybe because of the economy, people don’t want to spend much. Still we are far from giving up,” he assures.

Agnieszka Cejrowska, who is planning opening a second kindergarten Kidz Village for 58 kids on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, remains very optimistic. “There are a lot of children here, not only Polish, meanwhile the neighborhood lacks a a good childcare center,” she says. Her offer will include Spanish, science and music classes and much more. “I can’t say I am not worried about the economic situation, but I believe in the vision I have and that gives me strength. There is no way I can’t succeed,” Ms. Cejrowska adds.

Marta Prymak from Stokrotka points out that Polish businesses have a lot of potential in Ridgewood. “Before Poles had to go to Greenpoint to run errands. Now they can do a lot here”.

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