Last week, we got word that Sky Foods was putting down stakes in Flushing. Billed by its press materials as a “mega-grocery,” the 34,000-square-foot store will sell both Asian and American products, feature “the largest fresh seafood department in the area,” and have prepared foods like sushi, among other things. At least a quarter of its products, the materials claimed, would be organic. All of which made us wonder if Sky Foods was shaping up to be the Asian Eataly. So when we got an invitation to tour the store, which opens July 23, we accepted.
Sky Foods, as these photos attest, is at this point only partially stocked, resulting in a milieu that was part post-apocalypse, part Soviet-era deprivation. The barren shelves emitted a chilly glow, and the empty seafood tanks, filled with blue water, looked like they’d recently borne witness to a mass extinction. The store’s location, in the still-empty basement level of the Sky View Mall, only heightened the sense of desolation.
Still, as one of the store’s reps led us through the aisles, workers silently busied themselves stocking shelves with everything from flavored vinegars and salted duck eggs to boxes of Nescafé and jars of honey, and we began to get some idea of the breadth of products the store will offer. In a room behind the butcher counter, we were shown a machine that would weigh, cut, and package meat — it looked like an early computer, but promised the future.
The store’s rep repeatedly emphasized how Sky Foods would distinguish itself from other Asian groceries by its cleanliness and inventory of both Asian and American products. And, of course, its organic selection, though when we asked which products would be organic, we were told that the concept of having a one-quarter-organic inventory was more of a goal than a current reality.
Coincidentally, Sky Foods is only a few blocks down Roosevelt Avenue from J-Mart, the large and well-stocked Chinese supermarket located in the New World Mall. It, too, offers numerous American products, and boasts long seafood and meat counters. Although it makes no claims to stocking organic produce, its fruit and vegetables are impressive in both their variety and quality. And, incidentally, the store appears to be very clean.
Sky Foods is banking on its location to pull in customers, who will be able to park at the mall, do some shopping, buy their groceries, and then drive home without so much as a hiccup in the air-conditioning. How it will compare with the competition is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime, the following photos illustrate some of what the supermarket will bring to Flushing.
The seafood counter will serve 65 feet worth of aquatic life.
The butcher cases stand ready, waiting for their meaty cargo.
Behind the butcher counter lurks the meat machine of the future.
Come July 23, barren will be replaced by bounty.
A myriad of honey
Tea, tea, and more tea
Vinegars for your drinking pleasure
Bottles of tea, ready for consumption
The wide aisles of Tomorrow Land
Unlimited snacking options
34,000 square feet of groceries, right this way
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 12, 2011