So it’s a good feeling to hear about one old familiar name coming back to Jamaica Avenue nearly 20 years after it left.
Thriftys at 80-32 Jamaica Avenue sells new and like-new clothing for men, women and children. Walk inside and you’ll find a store full of shirts, jeans, and pants for adults and children, including plus sizes.
“Almost everything in the store is $5,” says owner Alan Strauss. “We have all kinds of brand names, including Gap, Ralph Lauren, American Eagle, Hanes, Russell Athletic, Liz Claiborne. You name it, we probably have it.”
If the store gives off an old-time vibe, it’s because Strauss has been running this kind of business since he started working for his father’s shop way back in 1981.
His father, Howard Strauss, was very involved in Woodhaven’s business district, most notably as the owner of a neighborhood favorite called Eebee’s.
“My father loved Woodhaven,” Strauss says. “He started Eebee’s in 1974 and moved to Jamaica Avenue around 1980. First, we had a small store on 85th and Jamaica and then we opened a second store at 90th Street and Jamaica. We were here in Woodahven for about 20 years.”
Eebee’s was a family-owned chain of stores with locations on Liberty Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, Fresh Pond Road, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, and King’s Highway.
The corporate office was housed here in Woodhaven at the 90th Street location and managed by Blanche Strauss.
In fact, it was Blanche Strauss, along with their partner’s wife Evelyn, who inspired the store’s name. Evelyn and Blanche, or E and B, became Eebee’s.
And it was Eebee’s, along with Shopper’s Corner, Linen Barn, and Jason’s, as well as Lewis’, Smiley’s, Wicker Baron and Plaster Palace, that local shoppers from the 80s and 90s remember fondly.
And Thriftys has that same kind of feel about it. It is packed with deals and bargains, and the owner of the store is always right in the middle of it, helping his customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
“It’s a building process,” Strauss says. “People are getting to know who we are.”
But Strauss already knows who his customers are, and he appears to be having a great time getting to know them even better, frequently joking with them and keeping it light and friendly.
“Look what we just got in,” he calls out to a man, a regular customer, browsing for pants. “All $5, up to size 3X. And if you buy 500 pairs, you get a free hanger!”
Howard Strauss was not just a store owner on Jamaica Avenue. He, along with Jeff Lewis, Maria Thomson and a group of other business owners worked with the city and Mayor David Dinkins to create the Woodhaven Business Improvement District back in 1993.
Neighborhood BIDs allow local business owners to manage the maintenance, development, and promotion of their shopping district. Not every neighborhood has one and they are very difficult to get started.
The decision Strauss and others made 25 years ago has paid many dividends since then, and the Strauss family’s return to Woodhaven is a positive sign.
“We’ve got big plans,” Alan Strauss says. “We’re having a gigantic opening sale and we hope everyone will come in to welcome us back home.”
In the future, Strauss plans to expand into the backyard, maybe putting up a tent and having barbecues on nice days.
“We’re really happy to be back on the avenue,” Strauss says. “I love the people here and look forward to being in business in Woodhaven for a very long time.”