JACKSON HEIGHTS — A controversial Trade Fair supermarket abruptly and mysteriously closed its doors Tuesday, blocking workers from coming in and confusing shoppers who said they didn't receive any warning.
Employees of the store on 37th Avenue between 76th and 75th streets came to work Tuesday morning but were not let in, according to a representative from the employees' unions.
And the red "Trade Fair" sign on top of the 24-hour store was torn down letter by letter that evening.
Jack Caffey Jr., a director of the United Food and Commerical Workers Local 338, said the union wasn't given any information about the sudden closing. The workers were told to go home after arriving to work Monday night and Tuesday morning, he said.
"The store had no respect to tell their workers that they're closing the store," he said. "It's right before Christmas. It's right before the holidays."
A man who answered the phone at the store said it would re-open Wednesday, but as of the morning it was still closed.
"We have some — we have a little problem here," he said. "We're doing inventory here."
Trade Fair's attorney, Frank Graziadei, said the store closed, but did not elaborate.
"All I can tell you is that the store closed," he told DNAinfo.
Victor Fuentes, who identified himself as the manager, said Tuesday he had "no comment" on what was going on.
Shoppers — some wheeling empty shopping carts — were greeted with a small "Store closed" sign at the front door.
Shirina Ahmed, 34, who's worked as a cashier at Trade Fair for 13 years, picketed outside the store Wednesday.
She said she received a call from the manager before her 6 p.m. shift on Monday, and was told not to come in.
"They don't send us mail," she said. "Nothing."
The mother of three said she and other employees need their jobs.
"This is my main thing," she said. "We have families."
Last April, union meat workers were locked out of the store. In 2012 a Trade Fair truck driver punched Councilman Danny Dromm in the jaw and chest when he attempted to take a photo of an illegally parked Trade Fair truck driver.
Also around that time, the store removed an illegal sidewalk enclosure after a months-long battle.
Dromm accused the store of being "a bad neighbor for many years."