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NYPL: Bridging Our Stories: Mike Saab

Meet Mike Saab, second generation owner of C-Town on Broadway in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood. In this conversation for The New York Public Library's oral history project covering Washington Heights and Inwood, Mike talks about what it takes for a supermarket to survive with his competition from supermarkets and bodegas in the neighborhood, a nearby Target that undercuts his prices, and online competitors including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

His secret? Customer service.



Mike and his cashiers and floor managers make it their business to know their customers, some who have been shopping at C-Town for decades. When it comes to the elderly, they've learned their names and routines, likes and dislikes, and offer a helping hand in putting away groceries and opening jars and bottles. And when they don't turn up on their regular visit, Mike  calls or sends someone to check on them.

You'll also learn about how food preferences and prices have changed in Inwood over the years, from basic carbs and Krasdale products to organic and gluten-free items, and from standard pet food to organic selections for the four-legged members of the family.

And Mike, the father of five daughters, talks about the early days of his father's food businesses after emigrating to New York City from Jordan and his most recent real estate venture, developing an apartment building on Seaman Avenue on 204th Street in Inwood, just a few blocks from C-Town.

Listen to the interview here: http://oralhistory.nypl.org/interviews/mike-saab-pzr9q

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