Lines formed from as early as 7 am on Monday along Lord Kitchener Street in Arima as Pennywise Cosmetics opened its newest location.
The store, which was the first Pennywise outlet opened 40 years ago, moved around the corner into a 13,500-square-foot space opposite the Arima market.
Eighty-year-old Elle Watson was the first customer through the door and, like many of the other shoppers, had only words of praise for the new store.
“It's lovely, gorgeous, beautiful. Everything is on par.
"I’m happy they have opened it, and I wish them all the best, because I've lived in Arima for 25 years, and I always shop at Pennywise.”
Store manager Avinash Soodeen, who has been with the company for 30 years, said the new store was opened with customers in mind.
“The comfort that they will have when they come here, you could already see it this morning with the smile on the people's face. The space between the aisles and the comfort, I think that is the major difference that would allow people to appreciate (this store).”
Arima Business Association president Christian Rampersad said the new store was evidence of the business community’s commitment to developing the borough.
“It proves the viability of business in Arima and it also reinforces that business people, in spite of the crime situation, are still investing in our communities and giving back to communities in general.”
Pennywise CEO Dalvi Paladee told Newsday the move was a result of the company’s customer-oriented approach.
“The (Arima) store has a lot of history, because it remained the smallest store after 40 years. Opening this brand-new store, which is one of our biggest stores, will help to alleviate the drama the customers were going through every day. Customers had to actually jostle.
"We were always keeping our eye out for the right property to ensure that the customers would be able to get the best service, and this store offers that.”
Paladee said the store was renovated in just two months and stocked and prepared in just two days, as permission was only granted last Friday for it to open.
He attributed Pennywise’s success and longevity to his customer-based approach.
“Hard work, dedication, thinking about people, making sure they are happy when they're shopping and they get the best prices.
" Our tagline was ‘Widest range, lowest prices,’ and it still is.
"Our interest in this store is to make sure people are happy. My job, the management's job and the directors’ job is to make sure that we continue to serve the customer and give them the best class of service.”
Paladee revealed some exciting plans are ahead, including expansion and a change in management.
“We intend to come out with a new mall again. We'll be building a mall in the east over the next two or three years that is already working in the making. It will take some time, but that's the next plan.
“My three sons…these young guys are coming to take over the show. They are well trained, and all of them are involved in the business. Very soon, I'll be taking a secondary space in the Pennywise lineup to allow them to take the mantle and, of course, carry the company forward.”
Newsday also spoke with one of Paladee’s sons, Dr Shivum Paladee, about the younger generation’s plans for the business when the gradual changeover begins in early 2024.
“It is huge shoes to fill, because my father took this company to where it is now. In terms of taking over, it's exciting, but it's also a bit daunting, because what he does right now is a lot to do.
"But I have support, with my brothers in the business; one of my cousins recently joined as well, and the staff is also very reliable.”
“The growth over the past ten years has been exponential…We have ideas and a lot of the things that you're seeing, some of it is from myself and my brothers. One of my brothers is a pharmacist, so he actually helped streamline the in-store pharmacies.
"We’ve already been involved in the business, so we have already been putting ideas into the business.”