Brooklyn – It was Friday morning, just eleven days before Passover, and most of the 365 parking spots at the new Bingo mega store at the edge of Boro Park were already filled. This was the first major holiday for the all kosher discount store concept that offered shoppers deeply discounted products for the holiday, from well-designed paper and plastic goods to virgin olive oil. With the exception of the store’s fresh deli section, all of the food was kosher for Passover, and for most of the largely Chasidic crowd the overflowing large carts were evidence of just how much of the holiday shopping was being done in the relatively new store. One cart was filled with more than 20 bottles of olive oil. Another cart had many boxes of the .99 price for 18 eggs. The savings were clear in every category. One observer noted that on a recent day, the store had an appreciable number of neighboring Asians although on this Friday the shoppers were predominantly younger Chasidic Jews, many with large families.
Sources told Kosher Today that several grocery stores in the neighborhood have lost as much as 25% of their customer base to Bingo. One retailer said that some of the customers do return because Bingo “simply does not have the variety” that the average kosher independent store has. One store advertised the sheer number of kosher brands to offset the limited selection by Bingo. In many cases, Bingo might feature one or two brands as well as its growing number of private label items. “Bingo has created a reshuffling of the customer base,” one distributor said, “and forced us to lower our margins to that base by insisting that we sell them at a certain price if we wish to be in the store.” From the conversations with people in the industry, it is clear that Bingo has shaken up the kosher landscape, much like the new upscale kosher independents shook up the retail scene, a trend that began with the opening of Pomegranate in 2008. There are reports that Bingo is looking at sites in Williamsburg, Monsey, and Lakewood. The Bingo success was very much noticed during last month’s Purim holiday and is one of the big stories this Passover.
At least one small Boro Park grocer has already closed and rumors were rampant that another long-standing kosher supermarket may very well be next.