June 27, 2011

Growth of Kosher Independents in New York Banking on Demographics

New York…While supermarket chains have been expanding of late in many parts of the country, in New York it is the large kosher independent supermarkets that are growing. The reason, say kosher experts, is a sense that there is more than enough business for everyone, largely because of the continued natural growth of the core Orthodox Jewish communities. In almost every neighborhood in New York with a major concentration of Jews, as well as such Upstate New York communities as Monsey, there are new additions that were not there five years ago, kosher sources told Kosher Today. In upstate Monsey NY, some purveyors say that they have been increasing sales by as much as 20% a year “simply to feed more mouths.” A leading Monsey activist predicted a 100% increase in the number of Orthodox Jews in the community in the next five years. “There are essentially two models in New York, Pomegranate or Moishe’s/Kollel,” said one large distributor. Pomegranate is the 3-year old Flatbush supermarket that is touted as the most upscale of all kosher independents, while Moishe’s in Flatbush and sister store Kollel in Boro Park offer better pricing and enormous variety. The new Season’s kosher supermarket on Main Street in Queens, which opened last week, is somewhat modeled after Pomegranate, particularly stressing wide aisles, good presentation of foods and customer service, while a nearby competitor, Aron’s seems more closely to align with the Moishe’s model.

Mayer Gold, who previously served as manager of Pomegranate and also worked at Super-Sol (the store that Season’s replaced), has incorporated some Pomegranate features such as wide aisles and customer service, although his 12,000 square foot is considerably smaller and his pricing is adjusted to a more price conscious local clientele. Gold and a group of investors acquired all four Super-Sol stores with only the Queens site undergoing major renovations. Sources have said for some time that at least one and perhaps two kosher independent superstores may open later this year in Monsey. They say that the planned supermarket by Israel’s Shufersal mogul Shulem Fisher on the site of the former Pathmark “has taken many twists and turns.” Many kosher stores in Boro Park and Williamsburg have in recent months been expanded and renovated as independent kosher grocers thrive in New York despite aggressive efforts by some chains and large discount clubs (i.e. Target and Costco) to lure kosher shoppers.