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Kidsday: My grandfather's dream

It was 36 years ago when my grandfather Joseph Stocken, who was 38 years old with a great job as vice president of a milk company, wanted to live his dream. He decided he wanted to make a better life for his family and something he could pass on, generation to generation.

Married with five children, he decided to remortgage his house to start his dream. In 1976, the first Handy Pantry Friendly Food Store was built in Nesconset. My grandma Dorothy Stocken did all the bookkeeping in a room in their home. From that point on, my grandparents worked together to build a franchise and built more stores all over Long Island.

Now there are 11 locations. I help out in the stores, and I work in the first one he built in Nesconset with my dad. I do the register, make egg sandwiches, fill produce and grocery orders and stock shelves. I also go to all the stores with my mom so she can make sure they are all being operated properly. My mom and my two aunts took over the business from my grandparents and run the company now.

My grandfather also says to me, "Brendan, you need variety, large selection, have great prices without emptying your customers' wallets or pocketbooks." That's why, if you go into any of our stores, we have prices comparable to those of supermarket chains.

I am very proud of my grandparents. My grandparents took a dream and made it a reality. This Long Island-operated family business can now be passed on from generation to generation. We have a slogan: "The Best Way to Start Your Day, The Handy Pantry Way." We are still going strong.

So now, if you pass one of our stores, you know the legacy and who started it.

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