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Editorial: Helpful Suggestions For Empty Jericho Turnpike Storefronts

I spend a lot of time driving on Jericho Turnpike, partially out of necessity and partially out of laziness; I somehow never learned all those convenient neighborhood shortcuts I really should know after having lived in this area for so many years, and I can never keep all our various highways straight. So my modus operandi for getting anywhere is to barrel down Jericho Turnpike with absolute tunnel vision, which, thanks to the way Syosset and Jericho are set up, gets me safely to my destination much more often than you might think.

Thanks to this habit, or perhaps character flaw, I’m in a unique position to notice all of the empty storefronts that have cropped up along this major thoroughfare within the last few years. Most noticeable to me are the large, empty buildings near the intersection with South Oyster Bay Road that used to house Borders Books and Blockbuster Video, but there are many others.

I think these empty stores are eyesores and we should do something about it. Now, I know what you’re going to say: “The economy is poor! Now is a bad time to open a new business!” However, that cuts both ways; in a poor economy, storefronts are cheaper, aren’t they? Play n’ Trade, the video game retailer, is only one company that has successfully preyed on the cornucopia of empty storefronts on Long Island, turning an economic downturn to their advantage.

In these times, I think it’s viable to experiment with some business concepts that would never merit prime Jericho Turnpike real estate in another, saner era. In my capacity as a friend of the Turnpike, I’ve come up with just a few suggestions:

1. Syosset-Jericho Comic Book Store: 20 years ago, we had several comic book stores in the area. Now I have to go to Huntington if I want to buy comic books, and if I have to drive all the way out there, at that point I may as well drive to Book Revue and feel intelligent by looking at real books instead.

A store can’t get by just selling comics these days (thanks to Marvel and DC’s staunch refusal to learn anything from the success of the Japanese comics model, which makes use of novel concepts like “continuity” and “character development”) but there’s plenty of related merchandise with lots of fan interest in this area: anime, tabletop gaming, model building, etc. As a geek, I can say with confidence that we are recession-proof: do you think I stopped buying anime and comics once I stopped being able to afford them? No. No, I did not.

2. Syosset-Jericho Gelato Emporium: Between 16 Handles, Red Mango and similar locations, we’re kind of drowning in frozen yogurt around here. That’s okay: yogurt is tasty and good for you. However, I used to go to a great gelato place in Queens back when I had some friends there, but now that those friends have inexplicably moved to Oregon, I never get the opportunity to have my favorite blood orange gelato anymore. Surely, with this area’s already proven track record for devouring insane amounts of frozen treats, a gelato vendor would have little trouble staying in business—especially if they adopted a seasonal model like Ralph’s Italian Ices. With the Syosset-Jericho Gelato Emporium, not only would I get the blood orange gelato I’ve been craving, but we’d keep those yogurt chains on their toes; we don’t want them to think they have some kind of dairy dessert monopoly here. They could start getting uppity.

I should note that this is probably not one of those businesses that should take over the old Borders or Blockbuster buildings: that would take a lot of gelato.

3. Syosset-Jericho Karaoke Club: Why should I have to go into Manhattan to belt out my version of My Heart Will Go On? Now I’m aware that some of our local bars do hold karaoke nights periodically, however that’s not really the same thing. Karaoke clubs give you the privacy that most wannabe singers who know they aren’t very good desperately need. If the birthday party business wasn’t enough to keep this place in the black, just add special viewing nights for American Idol and X-Factor with drinks and refreshments for sale. It’ll be like printing money.

These are just a few suggestions for business ventures that would make this area much more fun and convenient for me personally- or, um, ventures that would strengthen our local economy and provide great goods and services for all our residents. Maybe even both.

Now, as long as I’m on the subject of Jericho Turnpike, I guess I may as well mention this: Hey, all of you people who think you can make a left on Jericho Turnpike without a traffic light during rush hour? You’re precious. Never give up the dream.

- Karen Gellender