November 22, 2010

Baltimore Emerges as Newest Kosher Showcase with New Additions

Baltimore, Md…While the nation’s largest independent kosher stores opened here last week, a leading supermarket chain in the area also announced a major expansion. Industry sources say that the Baltimore developments are part of the latest turf wars for the ever-expanding kosher market. With 55,000 square feet, Seven-Mile Market in Pikesville, will eclipse such large stores as Rockland Kosher and Pomegranate, two other independents that have become part of the new standard bearers for spacious upscale kosher supermarkets. Both Rockland Kosher and Seven Mile Markets face increased competition from supermarket chains that are not conceding the territory to the independents. In New City, just several miles from Rockland a new Stop and Shop is touting a magnificent kosher showcase while Giant’s two Pikesville stores dramatically increased their kosher offerings. Brian Beaty, Director of Marketing and External Communication for Giant, which is part of the mega Ahold chain, said that the two stores in the area added more than 500 items with 130’ of dry goods, 24’ of refrigerated foods, and 24’ of dairy. In addition, Shoppers, a part of SuperValu, is also said to be increasing its kosher set. Industry sources that this new competitive environment is “a reality that here is to stay.” In the case of Rockland Kosher, for example, the huge store will also face competition from a planned new Yesh store, part of Israel’s Shufersal chain, that is scheduled to open on the site of the former Pathmark.

The new Seven-Mile mega-center is not merely a typical supermarket; it includes several franchise stores within a store, including a café, pharmacy, fish store, and flower store, among others. New display items include a salad bar, an expanded bakery section, and soon, a sushi bar and bulk items section. Herschel Bohem, the store’s owner, told Kosher Today that the opening day was “very busy, with a lot of customers exploring every display and shopping the entire store. “ He added: “Many of the customers pointed to the spaciousness of the place, and its clean and modern look.” Rikki Ambinder, a Baltimore resident, was one of those who just had to make it for the store’s re-opening. “The store is so big that you get a workout just walking the many aisles,” she remarked. “They have a much bigger selection than they did previously and have added many new sections, including one I enjoyed that was dedicated just to health foods. They also have a new section within their meat department, containing fresh bison and other kosher meats. The store is spotless and clean, and there were so many cashiers that even though the store was bustling, the lines were minimal. I had a very positive experience there and can't wait to continue shopping at such an amazing place that is kosher and all one-stop.” Eli Schlossberg, a Baltimore resident and a veteran food official and consultant says that the big challenge for Seven-Mile will be to attract area shopprers for more than the obligatory twice a year visits, before Rosh Hashanah and pre-Passover. Schlossberg helped produce a one-hour video on the store (