January 21, 2019

Bingo Set to Upend Kosher Retail in Lakewood

Lakewood NJ - The Lakewood kosher retail scene is about to absorb yet another dramatic change with the imminent opening of Bingo on Route 70 near the Home Depot. Reaction to the opening of Bingo’s second US store has been mixed with many customers anxiously anticipating the highly discounted goods that has made the Bingo initial Boro Park store such a success. Others on social media blasted the Israeli-based chain for “upending and uprooting our kosher stores.” Bingo’s ownership is a mix of an American partner and owners of the Osher Ad chain in Israel. Some retail experts describe Bingo as a cross between a discount kosher supermarket and a Costco despite the fact that the store is not a club. But Bingo does sell many non-food items, including shtreimels that Chasidim wear, for as low as $400 or 10% of what authentic shtreimels cost. In addition to the kosher independent retailers now in Lakewood, the new Bingo store is also receiving a cold shoulder from many manufacturers and wholesalers who resent the store’s heavy-handed approach to pricing. One wholesaler told Kosher Today that the Bingo buyer “essentially dictated to me what price he will pay me without any consideration to how much that would lower my margin.” But with a second store and greater buying clout Bingo is likely to be even more aggressive in its approach to buying. That strategy is likely to continue as Bingo plans a third store in Monsey and upends yet another community’s retail scene. For many Lakewood consumers with large families, the arrival of Bingo could not come soon enough. One wife of a young kolel student with four children said: “This is absolutely divine as the extra cash I will save will help me better support my family.”

The Lakewood kosher retail scene has evolved over the years as the primary shopping destinations moved from small stories and supermarkets that catered to the kosher community to large independent kosher stores that included Gourmet Glatt, Season’s (which declared bankruptcy late last year and was subsequently acquired) and Evergreen. The retailers are hoping that at worst they experienced what transpired in Brooklyn when some stores initially lost as much as 25% of their business but ultimately the decline leveled off to 8%-10% although there are more dramatic drops during holiday periods.