September 15, 2014

Price Remains Driving Force in Kosher Despite Upgrade of Stores

BROOKLYN — Malkie, a 30ish Orthodox woman with two young children in tow, was negotiating her way through the crowded aisles at the KRM Kollel Supermarket in Boro Park on a Thursday morning. She is a regular shopper at the sprawling store with its adjacent parking, which is by far the nation’s busiest kosher supermarket. Diagonally across the street is the upscale Gourmet Glatt, which she says “she visits only occasionally for some special items.”

Malkie may be more the typical kosher shopper as compared to shoppers who frequent the growing number of newly constructed or redesigned stores that have changed the landscape of kosher shopping. KRM’s other store in Flatbush, Moshe’s, is also the busiest kosher store in that community. What both stores have in common is price. Customers say that they realize savings of up to 30% on their weekly shopping, significant for middle class families with larger families. Kosher industry sources say that kosher shoppers are divided perhaps tilted towards the price conscious, between those willing to pay the price for a better shopping experience and those who seek out the savings.

Both KRM and Moshe’s are said to record sales numbers that exceed any store in the neighborhood, including the nearby Shoprite (considered one of the more successful Shoprite stores), but industry sources say that their margins are significantly less than the other major stores. Some shoppers say that the savings may not be as large as some shoppers think. One shopper said that she “does well with the specials at Pomegranate.”

The upshot of the success of KRM and Moshe’s is that a significant number of kosher shoppers continue to shop based on price despite the existence of the aesthetically pleasing new stores and the gourmet items they carry. Although by no means designed as upscale stores, both stores, founded by industry veteran Moshe Binick, have recently undergone major renovations, particularly focusing on more shelving and the all-important number of checkout counters. With Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish holidays around the corner, both stores are, according to Malkie, “going to look more like Grand Central station.”