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Greenlawn comes to aid of its local video store

Traffic into the Greenlawn Video store had dwindled.

By March, the troubled economy, coupled with the explosion of movie delivery services such as Netflix and On Demand cable services, had taken a toll.

Owner Junior Silverio had even started using money from his personal savings to keep the business afloat.

“I stayed, hoping it would get better,” said Silverio, 58, who lives in Kings Park. “But instead, it continued to get worse.”

Today, he has a lifeline — the community that came to his rescue.

“I’m so touched by everyone’s support,” Silverio said recently as he stood among the classics, Westerns and new releases in the tiny store that he bought 16 years ago. “The customers really care. It’s like family.”

When customers learned of his plight, they began a campaign to raise the community’s awareness, using fliers and alerting the media.

“We really didn’t want to see him leave,” said Frances Killelea, a longtime customer. “And he wanted to stay. So we wanted to see what we could do.”

Today, Silverio says, because of the community’s support, he has reconsidered and is going to tough it out for at least another six months. He said he raised $7,000 during a going-out-of-business sale to get him through the next couple of months.

“It was enough to pay October and November’s rent,” Silverio said of the earnings from his three-day sale after he announced his plans to close. “I realized that my movies are my savings — my investments.”

But a few weeks earlier, he was planning on closing the door for good.
He called his landlord in early October and told him he would be leaving. He ordered going-out-of-business signs and began selling his entire inventory of DVD and VHS movies for $3 apiece.

Silverio purchased the store in 1993 after he lost his job at a local grocery store that went out of business. One day, the owner of the nearby video shop — where Silverio was a regular customer — asked what he planned to do when his grocery store job ended.

Silverio told him he didn’t know. And the owner suggested he buy the store.
“I said, ‘You’re right,’ ” Silverio said. “Why not?”

The result worked out well for Silverio and for his customers. So when the going-out-of-business signs went up, his regulars started asking: Why? When?
After all, they had a valuable relationship with him and the shop: It was open 10 hours a day, 365 days a year, with Silverio behind the counter. Customers gave him a dry erase board where they could display their ratings of movies. Silverio would waive late fees. And customers came to trust his movie advice, especially for their children.

“It’s his personal touch,” Killelea said. “It’s wonderful to have the consistency of someone who knows you.”

She said the community is discussing marketing ideas and a coupon book for the shop, and they’ve entered Silverio’s name in the Best Mom and Pop store in the Best of Long Island poll sponsored by the Long Island Press.

“He wasn’t just somebody trying to make big bucks in the community and then fold,” Killelea said. “He had really given this community his all for so many years.”

Recently, a grateful resident dropped off a check for $200, but the generosity was too much for Silverio to accept.

“Their support is enough,” he said. “Their patronage, their cooperation. When my computer is down, they fix it for free. They help me in so many ways.”

He donated the check to the Greenlawn Civic Association.

“This way, it’s for all of us,” he said.

Tags: Greenlawn , business , people , good deeds

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