May 21, 2019

Uneven Retail Environment in Lakewood Poses Challenges

Lakewood NJ…by KT Staff Reporters…It was Wednesday evening, the first of the three-day pre-Shabbat shopping period in this growing hub for kosher foods. Yet, while some of the large independent stores were “busy,” others weren’t leaving some in the kosher food industry to wonder why. The magnificently mega Bingo store was virtually deserted leading some to speculate that the club-like kosher store was underachieving here compared to its pilot store in Boro Park. When Bingo first opened, Kosher Today reported that some local stores lost as much as 25% of their business. Most retailers in the area believe that as time went on, it was reduced to less than half (10%-12%), particularly on the eve of major holidays like Passover.

Located on Route 70 near such stores as Costco and Home Depot, the Israeli-style super store (Bingo is affiliated with the Osher Ad chain in Israel) has not yet captivated the Lakewood market. One kosher food industry veteran speculated that the location may not be as convenient for Lakewooders as was thought. In fact, Miriam, shopping with her husband in the extremely crowded Gourmet Glatt, said: “It’s a shlep for me since I live on the other side of town.” She also said that she liked the selection and takeout at Gourmet Glatt. Across town, Evergreen was crowded with the growing number of local shoppers who live within earshot of the upscale kosher supermarket. Hundreds of new houses and units are being built in the immediate area. Season’s was moderately busy on this Wednesday night, but far less than Gourmet Glatt and Evergreen. Bingo plans to go next to Monsey and is said to be eyeing several other communities. The kosher food veteran wondered if in the end Bingo could sustain its small margins especially if vendors “don’t capitulate to being squeezed.” He noted that many of the stores in Lakewood compete favorably with price and some offer a better customer experience. He called it an experiment where the jury is still out. In Lakewood, for the moment, given the mixed reviews. it appeared to be a hung jury.