Lakewood, NJ – The kosher retail scene is again changing which means that customer habits will be doing so as well. The new Bingo mega store here is a good example of customers opting for sharply discounted items to be supplemented by takeout and other favorites at kosher independent stores. In a decade where the kosher independent store dominated in markets like Lakewood, the arrival of Bingo meant that customers would now diversify their shopping, perhaps making runs for the larger bulk and discounted items and downsizing their traditional “one-stop” purchases at the independents. The Boro Park Bingo experience has taught us that after an initial mass “defection” of the local stores, customers tend to rebound and return to their favorite independents. On the other hand, Bingo has been able to expand its base beyond the traditional kosher consumer, leading New York-based supermarket analyst Burt Flickinger III that what’s available at Bingo in terms of price, quality and other factors makes it “a United Nations of consumers.” The local Asian customer in Brooklyn has become a strong customer base for a store that was largely designed to serve large Orthodox Jewish families, as it does in its 20 Osher Ad stores in Israel. If this pattern continues, it may bode well for Bingo’s success in secondary kosher markets.
The question now being loudly discussed in kosher circles is how far geographically this new phenomenon will take hold. It is known that Bingo has its sights on Monsey next and stores spokesmen make no secret of their intent to open many other stores. If the expansion goes beyond the BoroPark/Lakewood/Monsey sphere, the repercussions will be felt by the dominant supermarket chains who in many markets are the mainstays of kosher shopping. In the next few years, the dust will settle in terms of the independents that will survive (certainly in the aftermath of the Seasons bankruptcy), the supermarkets that will continue to invest in kosher, and the degree to which Bingo will emerge as the pre-eminent kosher shopping venue. What is clear already now is that the kosher consumer will determine that future.