After almost 25 years on Montauk Highway, TJ’s Hero Shop owner Tim Moore looked high and low before settling on the historic Robinson’s Market to expand in East Patchogue.
“We looked downtown in the village but the rents were extremely high,” Moore told GreaterPatchogue from his soon-to-be former locale at 508 East Main Street. “We looked at the place in the Best Yet shopping center. One spot was taken by another place while we were looking.”
They also looked at existing deli locations, to no avail.
But it all worked out in the end.
Moore is moving from tight quarters where he prides himself on being able to move the customers along to the more expansive 3,000-square-foot building sitting on a large corner lot off Washington Avenue and Oak Street.
A residence on the lot is part of the deal and, according to Moore, comes complete with an in-place tenant.
He is also merging his concept of get ‘em in and get ‘em out quick with Robinson’s more casual, neighborly vibe, even highlighting that duality in the name.
Moore says he plans to call the new endeavor, “TJ’s Hero Shop at Robinson’s Market.”
“Their customers [at Robinson’s] are excited because we’re not stopping from doing what they were doing,” Moore said. “His clientele is a little older, they play daily Lotto, buy half gallons of milk. Our place is fast paced.”
He says he’s going to run the business almost like two separate entities at first. TJ’s is retaining the staff from Robinson’s Market, while bringing their own employees over.
Moore will keep both phone numbers and will continue to answer the old number using the Robinson’s Market name, while people calling his current number will be greeted by the TJ’s Hero Shop business name.
story continues below photo
Although it will be hard to merge the fast-paced mindset with the townie atmosphere, Moore says it will be worth it, this way customers of both stores get used to the new concept.
In the end, he hopes the sum of the parts will be better than the whole.
He has some big plans to make that happen.
There is a 10-foot salad case in Robinson’s that he will be taking out. He will install a new counter that is larger than Robinson’s current one so they can still service the same volume of customers the popular TJ’s Hero Shop does on a daily basis.
At the same time, he says he will have two cash registers and people will still be able to get Lotto and their convenience items.
“When customers walk through the door and see someone familiar they will gravitate right toward them.”
If it sounds unorthodox, Moore has always had an eye to conceptualize what will work best for his businesses.
He opened TJ’s Hero Shop in Mastic Beach back in 1991.
A few years later one of his customers came to him with an idea to open a deli in East Patchogue and invited him to take a look at it. Moore insisted that the new owner limit his business to a hero shop but the man wanted to install a full delicatessen.
Over a year later, Moore took over the location from the former and fulfilled his vision for the little space.
His sister Laura Muldoon also came on as a partner in the shop. That was in 1995.
It’s been a good run, Moore said, but TJ’s has outgrown the space. And the new location is a just a hop, skip and a jump away from the old place, less than a half-mile away.
Moore says they weren’t really in the market to purchase a building, but after searching for the perfect location they fell in love with the historic nature of the property and its reputation.
“People know Robinson’s Deli, even people who aren’t in Patchogue,” he said. “So we decided, let’s do it.”
The property has certainly come a long way since it was used as a dairy farm in the 1800s.
Read a little about the history in an article we published when the property first went up for sale in 2017.
Moore isn’t worried too much about losing the frontage on busy Montauk Highway and moving to a property that’s tucked within a residential neighborhood.
He thinks his customers will find him and he will gain Robinson’s old customers and reputation.
“With social media and all the stuff going online, we’ll be fine,” he said.
While still in the early stages, Moore said that he might even use the back building as a farmer’s market of sorts where people could come and sell their own products.
The signs announcing TJ’s Hero Shop’s imminent move are already up, plastered on both buildings.
He said that he will be staying in his old location until the end of April. By then, he thinks the word will be out and people will start to look forward to the opening.
Moore prides himself on an old-school way of thinking.
He says he will continue to sell newspapers from the store because he sees a need for a place to go in town where you can still throw a couple of dollars on the counter and walk out with a local paper.
“Where do people even buy a newspaper anymore?”
By extension, Moore won’t even think about signing up for services like UberEats or DoorDash.
“I want you to come into the store,” he said. “I want to say hello to your kids.”
He decried the automation of everything these days, and says his business was built on face-to-face contact and thinks that will continue to be a part of his success.
“You don’t walk into this store without someone saying hi to you.”
As for the name of stores, TJ’s Hero Shop, Tim said that’s a big part of him too.
“John is my middle name,” he said.