July 8, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A group of small business owners in Forest Hills have come together at a time of adversity to host their first event this summer.
Several merchants along Metropolitan Avenue have formed a group called the Metro Village of Forest Hills and are hosting a community day on Saturday, Aug. 7. The coalition came together during the pandemic.
The event will take place on Metropolitan Avenue, from 74th Avenue to Selfridge Street. Merchants along the block — from Dee’s Brick Oven Pizza to Royal Collectibles — will offer attractions and food.
Attendees will have the chance to win prizes by participating in a scavenger hunt.
The event, called Community Day, aims to highlight the small businesses along the stretch of Metropolitan Avenue.
The businesses came together following a string of burglaries that took place during the pandemic that was a blow to many storeowners and restaurants.
For instance, Aigner Chocolates, a longstanding chocolate shop in the community, was broken into on Aug. 9. Its owners, Mark Libertini and Rachel Kellner, posted about the break-in on social media and received an outpouring of support from residents and neighboring merchants.
The husband-and-wife team received a gift from one of their fellow merchants along with some words of encouragement.
This gesture inspired Kellner to reach out to fellow business owners Eileen Arabian of Dee’s and Sandra Mandell of Oliloli Arts & Craft Studio to talk about creating a business association.
“The Forest Hills community welcomed us with open arms five years ago,” said Keller, who took over the chocolate shop with her husband in 2015. “We are incredibly fortunate to have developed strong relationships with both the business owners of Metropolitan Avenue and the patrons of our store.”
The owners decided it was time to formalize their business relationships and create an initiative to support one another in a partnership within the community.
They created Metro Village of Forest Hills to support their fellow merchants and strengthen the community.
“Living and operating my business in this community has made me extremely grateful for the relationships and the support that I have received over the years,” Arabian said. “My wife, Eileen, and I are excited to work with our fellow local business owners to ensure the economic viability of all of the business on Metropolitan Avenue.”