Ethnic Supermarkets Have Fun

Articles
March 16, 2010

Ethnic Supermarkets Have Fun

As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches, the Kosher-only Seven Mile Market in Pikesville, MD, announced a move to a nearby site that will double its size to 55,000 square feet.

As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches, the Kosher-only Seven Mile Market in Pikesville, MD, announced a move to a nearby site that will double its size to 55,000 square feet. What better way to make a splash – and ensure its assortments will continue to draw shoppers from the nation’s capital, plus Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Owner Hershel Boehm told the Baltimore Sun he’ll take over a Safeway site that has never been profitable, in order to display more products for “a wider range of people.” To us at The Lempert Report, this move signifies more than confidence in his store’s pulling power, and the surge in Kosher food sales ($12.5 billion in 2008, up 64% from 2003, according to Mintel). He seems to sense no limits to the appeal of his Kosher meat, fish, baked goods and more. Sheer enthusiasm.

We get it. Ethnic supermarkets are fun – both for the targeted core shoppers whose needs are authentically met, and for the curious and the uninitiated who like to explore other dietary regimens and cuisines. Other fine examples exist throughout the country. For example:

  • H&Y is a full-size Korean supermarket in Plainview, Long Island, that attracts a predominantly Asian shopper base, but others shop there too. A Korean restaurant and a Korean bakery flank the store entrance. As people enter the store, a sushi showcase beckons on one side and a housewares appliance department on the other. Robust produce anchors the entire right side of the store. Then shoppers navigate around the sampling stations (kimchi, dumplings, soups) to find displays of sashimi grade salmon, tuna, octopus and more. Fresh and frozen fish is sourced from Thailand, Indonesia and other parts of the world. The center store is a sea of foreign language packages.
  • Meanwhile, high-quality steaks, chops, burgers and sausages are key offerings of four Moo & Oink stores that market themselves as BBQ Headquarters. Their most frequent customers are African-Americans in urban Chicago and the south suburb of Hazel Crest. Sizzling samples and value-added prices, along with trivia games and karaoke contests with prizes, keep the experience fresh at this operator, which has been established in this area for well over a century.
  • At the 12 Pro’s Ranch Markets in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico, Hispanics can buy the grocery brand names they know from their homelands in Mexico, Central and South America. Or buy Tres Leches cakes, Bolillo breads and sweet empanadas from the 24/7 scratch bakery. Or taste tortilla samples from the tortilleria that slow cooks corn for hours before grinding it into dough and placing it in the oven. Then there is the occasional Mariachi group or folkloric dancers to spice up the shopping trip.

Ole!  If more conventional supermarkets concentrated on certain offerings that define them, and found ways to make shopping seem less of a burden, they too could benefit from loyal and enthusiastic followings.