West Villagers returned from summer vacations to find sparsely stocked shelves at Jefferson Market, the 89-year-old food shop on Sixth Avenue. “Stocks are not as plentiful as they have been in the past,” a letter from owner Louis Montuori posted in the window admitted, asking for “support during this rough patch.” The culprit isn’t a rent increase; rather, rising gas and food prices, a slow summer season, and increased competition—Citarella is just up the block—crimped cash flow. “It was a bad summer,” says manager John Franqui. “When people came back, we didn’t have the money to be fully stocked.” Last week, there were empty platters where prepared food should be on display, a lone Häagen-Dazs pint in the ice-cream freezer, and no avocados in the avocado bin. Management hopes that if customers continue to buy Jefferson’s slim pickings, the store can improve its finances. “We spend a lot of time rearranging what we already have,” Franqui said.
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