It’s been a pretty strange month for the folks at GNP Sunil Corp., and it started with a spate of terrible bad luck.
On Sept. 17, three men were caught on camera smashing the front window of the bodega on West 235th Street and Netherland Avenue, making off with $8,200 in cash and $6,000 in Metrocards. While there’s no word on whether the crooks have been caught — or if they are still on the run with those 2,181 free bus rides they stole — GNP’s front window is still covered by plywood.
But things did manage to turn around, according to Patel Praevin, who’s been helping his uncle Patel Shendhabi run the store since last year. That’s at least partially due to the two — that’s right, two — winning lottery tickets they sold just two weeks later.
First up was a $65,000 winner Oct. 1, itself more than enough reason to smile, according to Praevin. But just two days later, the GNL sold another winning ticket, this time for $10,000.
In fact, GNP regularly sells winning lotto tickets as evidenced by the awning, which proudly announces the last time the convenience store sold a jackpot-winning lotto ticket: Way back in February 2016. That ticket? Worth a measly $1 million.
“It all depends on how lucky you are,” Praevin said, seemingly unable to stop smiling. “We are also lucky that we sell good prizes.”
So the day is saved, right? GNP gets burglarized, and then two weeks later they sell one or two winning lotto tickets, and the extra commission and business gives them all the cash they need for that new window they want so bad.
As it turns out, New York’s lottery commission doesn’t pay retailers any bonus commission for winning tickets unless they sell the jackpot — in which case they get $10,000. So, in total, Praevin and his uncle made 12 cents for both lotto tickets that in turn delivered $75,000 to two lucky customers.
At 6 percent, New York and California pay retailers the highest commissions on lotto tickets among the nation’s six most populous states, which include Texas, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania, who all offer a 5 percent commission. But the state gaming commission doesn’t pay out any bonus commission on winning tickets unless the lucky bodega shopper hits the jackpot, and there’s about as good a chance of that as — well, you know — winning the lottery.
Praevin was a little too busy relishing in the fact his store sold two winners in one week to really worry about the commission. But another lottery retailer — Larry Addeo said it’s time the compensation system for retailers like his Larry’s Lucky Lotto store at 5644 Riverdale Ave. is brought into the 21st century.
“It has been 6 percent since the lotto has been in existence over 50 years ago,” he said. “Now with the price increase, the rent increase and your total overhead, and the presence that lotto has in your store, it is your main attraction. And in all fairness, as a retailer, we should get a slight increase in commission.”
Addeo has owned his lotto store for a little less than six years, in which time he says he has sold a lot of lotto tickets and analyzed the exact impact it has on his business. While he still feels like he makes a good amount of money selling lottery tickets, it sometimes can actually hurt business.
“The amount of time that it takes our employees — there are people who come in with novels full of numbers and they sit there helping somebody for 25 minutes,” Addeo said. “You have other people who want to buy something like stationary, which has a higher profit value who will walk out of the store. So you are losing that customer — not all of the time, but some of the time.”
But Addeo says he still has hope for a state senate bill sponsored by state Sen. Tony Avella, which would raise the commission for retailers up to 8 percent — a move Addeo says would make a big impact.
“We get a good amount, but the amount that you get … that 2 percent will be a big help,” he said.
Avella’s bill, however, has made little headway in the senate since the Queens Democrat introduced the proposal last March.