April 11, 2016

Lakewood Prepares for Passover 2016 in Greatly Expanded Fashion

Lakewood NJ…It was Friday afternoon at the new huge Gourmet Glatt on Madison Avenue. Despite its expansive aisles and large space, the megastore that can favorably compete with any large chain supermarket, was crowded with shoppers. Their shopping carts were filled with items for the upcoming Shabbat as well as items for Passover now only two weeks away (eve of April 28th). A good segment of the meats and numerous freezer doors (there are nearly 60 of them) featured signs “Kosher for Passover.” Two full aisles and a number of end caps were already fully stocked with Passover items that included jams, potato starch, croutons, snacks, baking supplies and more. The sheer number of items was dizzying on a holiday where people no longer say that “there’s nothing to eat.” Less than two miles away, was the well-stocked Shloime’s, a far cry from the huge new spanking store of Gourmet Glatt but nevertheless fully stocked with most of the Passover items in the nearby Gourmet Glatt. Raizie shops in Shloime’s because “she’s shopped there all her life and anyhow the prices are cheaper.” She likes the fact that the store is “mot huge.” She adds: “I run a very busy life and need to be in and out.” Most of the Gourmet Glatt said they enjoyed “the shopping experience.”

Store managers agreed that price was still a key factor in the success of the stores in this community. “Comparative shopping is very much alive here,” said one. Just down the road is the relatively new Aisle 9 kosher supermarket. While more modern than Shloime’s and a fraction of the size of Gourmet Glatt, the layout afforded shoppers almost everything they needed for Passover in a very compact and neat layout. And then there is the megastore Season’s, a rapidly expanding supermarket chain that is already prevalent in many Jewish communities and is planning several other stores in other communities. While not as large as Gourmet Glatt, it is still large with a good Passover section and a symbol of the “kosher revolution” in Lakewood. For kosher purveyors, Lakewood has become a major kosher center with yet another brand Evergreen set to open after Passover. Of a population of 100,000 in Lakewood, nearly 60,000 are Jewish and almost all kosher consumers. Sources say that as many as 900 new families moved into the community in 2015. What began in the 1940’s as a sleepy Yeshiva community in a wooded area, led by Beth Medrash Govoha (founded by the venerable sage Rabbi Aharon Kotler), has emerged as a major community for Orthodox Jews. Some in the kosher industry say that Passover sales to Lakewood will increase by nearly 20% in 2016 over last year.