Brooklyn, NY - Esther, a 30ish mother of four, says the prices at the new huge Bingo store (on the site of a now defunct Pathmark) in Boro Park “are much cheaper than the local stores.” She felt that when she reaches one of the 15 checkout counters (10 were open) this Sunday morning, it would be significantly less than what she is used to paying. The Feinsteins, a middle age couple, were not “floored” by the pricing but felt that a good shopper would find some great bargains here. Bingo, which opened a fortnight ago, is the closest version of a kosher Costco, albeit that it is not a membership-based store. More than 100 shoppers were in the huge store this Sunday morning with most complimenting the newest US version of the Osher Ad chain (15 stores) in Israel which is extremely popular with the Charedi community especially those with large families. The Israeli owners of Osher Ad teamed up with an American partner to open the first of what they say will be a chain of US stores. The Boro Park store’s slogan is “Our Mission: No Shticks. No Tricks,” a reference to the bells and whistles of the new generation of gourmet kosher stores across the nation. One of those gourmet stores is Breadberry, which is smaller than the 70,000 square foot Bingo with its two floors of parking. Breadberry has a loyal following as well as many local shoppers. Baila travels here from Flatbush because of the gourmet take-out foods and the “best coffee in Brooklyn.” Only four blocks from Bingo, it is a beautifully designed store and offers a different shopping experience. Here a double roll of Freund’s frozen gefilte fish sold for $20.49 as compared to Bingo which was at $16.69 for the same double loaf. The same was true for many items like Greek Yogurt ($1.49 as opposed to 6 for $6 or $1 each) and snack items that were even cheaper than KRM Supermarket, less than a mile away and known for its low prices. Bingo’s ads in the Jewish media touted the fact that the store did not waste money on a Grand Opening in order to pass along savings to customers. In fact, many of the items sold at Bingo were private label under brands like Bingo, BluPantry or even appliances under BluTago arranged in sweetheart deals with kosher manufacturers. Overall, the kosher industry is cautiously optimistic that the Bingo model will succeed despite its radical departure from normal merchandising and retail practices. Some look at their exclusive deals with Bingo as an investment into a new age of kosher retail. Others are skeptical whether Bingo can indeed meet its retail goal, said to be about $2 million of sales a week. They agree that unless the store generates significant volume, it will not sustain a model that is based on small margins on regular size items and greater margins on specially produced jumbo sizes. With only one store, they wonder whether their limited buying power can sustain these low margins. Others are far more optimistic saying that the retail model in a growing Orthodox Jewish community is indeed Bingo!
December 6, 2016