February 22, 2010

Flatbush Food Establishments Contest ÒBookÓ Theory of Store Closure

Brooklyn…A KosherToday story that the closure of Fruit Palace on Avenue J was due to the mounting debt of credit extended to customers in what is known as the “book,” was immediately challenged by local merchants, investors, and at least one distributor. The culprit, say the food officials, is Pomegranate, which has sharply curtailed traffic on the Flatbush commercial strip. One source told KosherToday that most of the food stores “on the Avenue” were down between 30% - 40% since the large gourmet upscale supermarket opened only several blocks away in August 2008. An investor with Food Palace told KosherToday that “orders on a typical Friday were down by nearly 40% in most of the food stores on Avenue J.” Yet, one source also noted that the book may have been a factor, noting that one account at Fruit Palace owed the store more than $70,000. A source close to nearby Blue Ribbon said that his book totaled more than $200,000. Another Flatbush store put his number at “somewhere between $140,000 - $160,000. But the food sources say that the book is not the reason for the doldrums at some of the stores as those payables have always existed. “It is clearly Pomegranate that has simply cut traffic on the avenue significantly,” said one source that has been on the avenue for over a quarter of a century. He added: “Look, we are trying to help our customers and when you wrote about the book, you neglected to mention how much free food we all give away. That’s what hurts so much. We’ve done so much for this community and suddenly many of them are gone, just like that.”