Boro Park Grocery Stores vs. Newspapers and Magazines: All Out War

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bpnIt is a grocery store versus newspapers and magazine war, and it is going on in Borough Park as we speak.

The war started by the grocery stores takes on the high pricing of the Orthodox Jewish publications. As of now, it is impossible to purchase a newspaper or magazine in any of the grocery stores in Borough Park. Currently, the war is limited to Boro Park and has not extended to Flatbush or Williamsburg, but publishers are wary.

Thus far, the response of the publishers is to park trucks in front of some of the locations and sell the magazines and papers off the trucks themselves. All the magazines and newspapers are being sold on the trucks. So far there are ten trucks on Fort Hamilton Parkway, 12th Avenue and 51st, 13th Avenue(3 locations), 14th (57th and 45th), 15th (on 44th Street), 16th (and 47th) and 18th (and 56th).
How did the war begin?

One insider said that the main instigation for the issue was the opening of the Bingo supermarket on 60th street between 13th Avenue and 12th Avenue.
On January 10th, a letter was sent to every publisher of a Jewish newspaper or magazine that was available for sale in the Brooklyn grocery stores. There were some errors in the letter, most glaring was that it was dated January of 2016 – not 2017.

The letter, however, honestly depicted the plight of the grocer and requested that the magazines and newspapers slightly reduce their wholesale prices to the groceries.

Their request was made on account of the following factors:

1. The grocery owners called the reading material luxury items and should be priced with a higher profit margin for the retailers.

2. There are significant labor costs in maintain the merchandise. The magazines and newspapers have to be re-stocked regularly, and weather conditions must be carefully monitored.

3. Space in Boro Park is at a premium. The rents that the grocery stores pay is very high per square foot.

4. The racks themselves had cost the grocers on average $2000. This is significant.

5. Many customers have accounts that are paid, at best, once per month. The vendors require payments within a week.

6. There is a credit card charge that the grocery stores have to pay as well.

Left unsaid in the letter was that the grocery stores were significantly hit by the opening of the Bingo supermarket. The weekly shopping bill at Bingo is often almost half of the prices at other markets. Average store prices on other items are marked up 30 to 35 percent. Newspapers are only marked up by 15%.

The stores requested better pricing and wanted a response by high noon on January 15th. The distributors of the newspapers and magazines formed a group on WhatsApp to deal with the situation. The newspapers and magazines responded negatively and on account of that – 42 stores decided to boycott the newspapers and magazines.

Dee Voch and Kindline, magazines, which retail for $5.99 used for $5.20. The grocery stores want the wholesale price to go to $4.19. According to one report, the Yiddish-language weekly Der Blatt sells at the newsstand for $3. The grocery store owners demanded that the wholesale price be dropped $.45 from $2.55 to $2.10 per copy. For the English daily Hamodia, which retails for $4, the grocers demanded a drop of $.55 from $3.35 to $2.80.

Eighteen of the newspapers and magazines united together and placed signs throughout Borough Park indicating that there will be new distribution locations throughout Boro Park and to look out for more details to follow.

Larry Gordon, publisher of the Five Towns Jewish Times, which is available for no charge remarked, “In light of the current crisis and to help provide high quality reading material for our Boro Park readers, we have doubled our distribution in Boro Park – until this gets resolved.”

“We hope this will end soon. Reading is a necessity for the consumer. Had they come with something reasonable this would have been considered,” remarked one publisher who has been affected. When asked by YWN what would have been considered reasonable the publisher responded, “It depends on the magazines and the newspapers. Anywhere between ten cents and twenty cents, but this is ridiculous. Let’s recall that after 3 days the newspapers and magazines are not worth anything.”

There were 42 different grocery store owners who signed the letter. The grocery stores listed were:

Appels, Appetizing Plus, Ari’s Fruit Land, Buchner’s, BP FoodMart, BP Supermarket, Breadberry, Birenbaum, Center Fresh, Duddy’s, Deli Plus, Einhorns, Fischman’s, Ft. Hamilton, Food Basket, Food Center (46th Street), Food Spot, Gourmet Glatt, Kaffs, Kol Tov, KRM, Kosher Depot, Kosher Discount, Landau’s, Mehadrin, Mittelmans, Mega53, Parkville, Paperific, Posners, Rosners, Super13, Super Saving, Tov Meod, Webers, Wiesners, Yidels, 12th Supermarket, 16th Ave Food Center, Ruben Grocery 15, Nasher’s Delight, and Shaya’s Food Center.

And while this negatively affects readers, the entire affair seems to have led to greater unity among the grocery store owners. There is also greater unity among the publishers. The problem is that between each other there is less unity and more strife.

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(Chaim Feldstein – YWN)




41 COMMENTS

  1. I really dont understand why those groceries are so upset about? If they feel that the papers is NOT producing a profitable margin then get rid of it. No one forces anyone to sell newspapers but you cant gang up and boycott those media companies..Yes all grocers are upset about Bingo cutting into their livelihood but thats America. We all know that when Walmart came into every town in USA they killed thousands of little stores.
    Why did you pick the Media? Why dont you boycott Mehadrin, Golden Flow and Sterns Bakery???
    You all can survive without magazines and newspapers but you can not survive without Bread,Butter and Milk.
    I heard that all newspapers are planning to give a 8 page Free ad for BINGO so the consumers will see how much they can save and then the grocers will cease this boycott…Boro Park is at war and lets watch who will win this war

  2. I find it interesting that according to the newspapers they state in their letter that the stores want them to increase the retail price. According to the grocers they asked for the newspapers to drop the wholesale price.

    If the newspapers give BINGO a free 8 page add, then every store should not advertise in these newspapers for a month. I think the newspapers, which survive on advertising dollars will cave first.

  3. they dont want to drop .45 cents but their spending that amount on truck rentals. now if the public would stand behind their favorite grocery’s and not buy any magazines for a few weeks the magazines will surely cave

  4. Both sides are wrong!! Grocery stores nowadays make literally millions. Which store today has not expanded and owns or rents millions of dollars of property. I grew up in Boro Park and have watched every little store grow by leaps and bounds on the backs of their customers. If they can afford to buy the properties they own they certainly can afford to have lower prices. They have all gotten rich on our backs. On the other hand the magazines too make a fortune in ads and need customers to have them in order to keep the advertisers. They should all be grateful the customers don’t boycott them all and just figure it out without involving us who have made them rich.

  5. To #2 if you would’ve read the letter from the grocery stores then you would’ve seen that they’re telling the magazines that since you won’t raise your prices, you have to lower the wholesale price instead.
    The point here isn’t about .45 it’s about the grocery stores trying to use terrorist union tactics against an entire industry since they can’t do anything to Bingo directly and there’s no reason for the magazines to get involved in that.
    The sad thing is that the only ones who are going to suffer on the publications side are the distributors, because between the trucks and subscriptions sales aren’t going to be affected all that much.
    To #3 if you enjoy reading newspapers and magazines then you should hope they don’t cave, because if they do it’s going to result ina price hike and that’s going to come from your pocket.

  6. remember that the newspaper is just the beginning. If the grocers succeed they will do the same to the rest of vendors. Meanwhile i saw Bochners, Mittlemans , BP supermarket are carrying all papers. There will never be Achdus between grocers and this boycott will NOT hold.

  7. Also most grocers dont advertise except for KRM, Goldbergs and they advertise in the Link, Torah Times which are distributed free of charge

  8. Interesting. So the trucks, which don’t have a permit to conduct business on a public street, are breaking the law. I guess that’s ok, if you want to teach your fellow Yid a lesson. Interesting. I also find the taanah of, “it will be worthless in 3 days”, fascinating. That’s what we’ve been saying about the crooks and criminals who rip off their fellow Yidden every year with the outrageous price of Esrogim, all in the name of “hiddur”, of course.
    You chevra are complaining about the price of Heimisha food companies, with the almighty Heimisha hechsherim? Don’t be a gullible fool. Start buying regular normal food companies with the OU, OK, StarK, ChofK, etc… You will be amazed how much money your Mishpacha will save. Don’t be held hostage by the heimisha hechsherim mafia.

  9. #2, iacisrmma

    I think you’re wrong. When we purchase a magazine/newspaper which is 2/3 advertisements we are the ones paying for the newspaper. I just find it amusing how we are being played by selling us ads in stead of giving it to us free of charge! We should not have to pay such an exorbitant price to read advertisements.

  10. I hope that the Association takes this war to the food manufacturers and distributors as well. Groceries are indeed struggling, even before Bingo’s kamikaze mission, and the hard-working people get hurt.

    There is no reason why kosher food – unlike slaughtered poultry and meat – comes at such a premium. In addition, the newspapers should understand that the middle-class can’t afford the reading material regardless. It is the poor that will no longer purchase newspapers and magazines that are not sold at an establishment…

    The Association should not cave. There is no reason for them to sale products at a loss.

  11. FYI Rosners grocery never sell any magazine
    So there is some discrepancy’s (wrong or lie) as # 8 already wrote about other grocery’s that do sell it even though they supposedly signed on the letter.

  12. The grocery stores seem not to have heard of the federal anti-trust laws.

    I’m not an attorney but it seems to me that forming a cartel of supposed competitors in order to force suppliers to lower prices is illegal. It’s not nice to start up with Uncle Sam and I hope it doesn’t take federal charges to make the grocery stores realize this!

    In any event, strong-arm tactics to compel price changes is certainly immoral. I hope the stores wake up to this on their own and back down.

  13. to#4, The small grocers charge outrageous prices for their goods and get away with it because most of the shoppers are paying with SNAP benefits, not cash. It amazes me when shoppers buy everything at the overpriced little grocer when a trip to 39th or 60th Street would have a bundle.
    The publications in question print a sell a relatively small number yet have staff and overhead to cover so there is justification for the high profit and high wholesale cost.

  14. I think everybody is wrong. If the stores feel that this aspect of their sales is not worth the bother they should just stop selling publications. i really don’t know the math but they sell dairy products that need refrigeration, restocking and can spoil. They still sell dairy.

    If the publications really feel they are well priced now and a few cents more will ruin the business they should look for other savings. Prices are not cheap now.
    I really hate the mess in B.P. but I am not sure one can complain that this is illegal, I think it is protected as Freedom of Speech. Then again, forklifts on 39th street, legal parking blocked off, sidewalks that disappear at 15th ave?

  15. I believe part of the issue at hand here is that the groceries are expected to pay the publishers for all the magazines they take to sell. Now if they only sell half of them they of course lose out. The publishers won’t reimburse the groceries for unsold publications yet at the same time the publishers made their money.
    Really what should be, is, the groceries should have accounts with all publishers. Instead of paying in advance for the publications, they should pay the following week and only for those they sold. The rest should be given back to publisher or disposed of. But any publication that was not sold should be a loss to the publisher and Not the grocery. That would greatly alleviate the loss burden on groceries.

    BTW, I don’t think Bingo was the cause of this.
    A) Bingo does not carry many items the local grocery sells.
    B) Last I checked, Bingo does not carry publications.
    C) Their NON Delivery is a big setback for the big shopper. And even Shimon’s express deliverys’ prices are way out of range.

  16. The groceries’ letter itself is mind-numbing. If their margins are already squeezed, why are they still operating in the stone-ages by “writing down” the costs of a customers’ purchases (versus doing so electronically by waving the paper by a bar code reader) and why to they allow customers to use them as a bank and simply refuse to pay their bills for weeks after their purchase. If they want to operate in such a mindless way and deliberately drive up their costs, don’t expect your suppliers (in this case the new publishers) to subsidize your deliberate money-losing business practices.

  17. Grocery stores may or may not be making lots of money; that’s not the point. Publications are making money. The profit margin is very narrow so they are selling products and not really making money on them, let alone losing. They can’t stop carrying them since their clientele wants them and they basically feel obligated to do so. The stores are in a no-win situation so they’re fighting. I’m fully with them. They should hold out until the publications cave and guarantee them that they will lower the prices and NOT raise it for the end user.

  18. I was in Bingo once and I wasn’t particularly impressed with their prices. They didn’t seem significantly cheaper than KRM or Moisha’s. Obviously, the smaller stores are going to be more expensive in general, just as Seven-11 is more expensive than a supermarket. The one big advantage of Bingo over all the other stores is the parking.

    Parking in Borough Park is a disaster, whether because of the storage trailers that are frequently parked near the grocery stores or because of these trucks selling publications. I’m very happy that I seldom have to go into BP these days.

  19. All groceries should lower there prices and fallow the ways of bingo. I’m so glad to see that the many Jews who can’t afford a simple shabbos worth of food FINALY CAN BH! I know rent is high ect… but cmon do the prices really need to be that high??

  20. I think let the magazine charge the price they charged till now, and the grocery should put up as much profit as they want which will cause competition in groceries, like any other item that each grocery can have different prices.

  21. Im a supplier and i sell to every kosher supermarket including bingo. One thing i can tell u is: the way bingo is selling his items he will not cover his bills and he will eventually close. Hes barley making money on my items (thats what i know for sure) and regarding to the magazines: i personally hold that its disgraceful the way they r treating the grocery stores, im in the line and i see how hard it is to sell such a thing in a grocery (money and space) they r taking advantage of the stores. I saw before on twitter @barrryspitzer put out that the grocery stores and everyone all over should boycott these papers for a few weeks and they will learn the hard way. They r abusing our fellow supermarkets who r trying their best to make us happy. I think the best idea is, to boycott.

  22. Groceries are among the businesses with the lowest profit margins. Typically, it’s about 1-2%. Not a good business.

    Magazines and newspapers are suffering economically all over the country. Not a good business.

    Both are not good businesses, yet both are needed.

    Jewish newspapers and magazines are as necessary as food stores. Jewish newspapers and magazines are not luxury items. They are necessities to keep Jews informed amidst the ocean of antisemitic secular newspapers.

    Maybe newspapers and magazines should be partially subsidized by the community?

  23. Newspapers r not a need. They r full of ideas for business and there conspiracys and news. And to u all that want everyone to have the same prices as bingo is not talking logisticly. Guys we did not have any problems with food till bingo opened let it stay this way. Todays days u go to bingo u think u save urself 50 bucks. Five minutes later i will find u in the loft or upside burger spending a few hundred dollars. And u still say: WOW B”h i saved myself $50. Dont overspend shop like a normal human being and u will be fine which ever store u go to.

  24. The writer seems to have an agenda here, and it doesn’t seem like honest unbiased reporting. Where exactly does allegations about Bingo fit into the dispute between groceries and publishers? Why is everything Bingo’s fault?. ED: The pointing to Bingo was done by a publisher who wished anonymity.

  25. To holala. 42 people who own these grocery stores are making thousands if not 10s of thousands of people suffer with there ridiculous prices.I think you saying bingo will close is completely incorrect. I actually think the smaller groceries will close if they don’t change there pricing.

  26. I don’t feel bad for the stores at all. They brought this on themselves. Don’t blame the magazines for YOUR own shoddy business practices.

    You don’t want to carry them, DON’T. We’ll find stores that do and patronize them as well.

  27. MAGAZINES KEEP FIGHTING THE STORES NEED IT MORE THAN YOU THEY WILL START LOOSING CUSTOMERS AND THAN THEY
    WILL CRY 2 U TO BRING IT BACK!!!!! #MMGA #MAKE-MAGAZINES#GREAT#AGAIN

  28. ACHDUS WILL BRING THE GEULA. This is really sad- both the negativity in the article, and the spiteful, hate-filled vitriol in many of the comments…