It 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.
(Chaim Feldstein – YWN)