I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Wednesday, October 20, 2004 ] -
They put the 'Jew' in Jewel
Jewel, a large grocery chain in Chicago, owned by Albertsons, has already been a major stop on the route of most Chicago Jewish grocery shoppers. A large Kosher section has been in the planning for a while but was discouraged by the local Kashrut agency in order to protect the smaller, local, Jewish-owned competition. The protection has now expired because the large, national Kashrut organization just came in and is giving their seal on a huge Kosher section. The new, full-service, Kosher deli and meat/fish dept will also include a carry-out Chinese place and more stuff I don't even know about.

I received this in the mail yesterday, with no return address. It's my understanding that everybody in the Chicago Jewish phone-book, The Acheinu, got one.
An Open Letter to the Community:

Dear Friend,

We view with much concern the recent development in our community of a supermarket chain competing for the kosher food clientele in an aggressive manner, against the existing local all-kosher food stores.

In other communities where this has occurred, kosher stores were forced out of business and those communities suffered greatly. Without competition, prices could be raised, the range of products and variety of brands could diminish, kashrus alerts to take products off the shelf can be ignored and overall quality of service to the communities needs can suffer.

Occasional lower prices and the convenience of supermarket shopping can be misleading lures that over time could cause more harm than benefit, to all of us.

In order to prevent this disturbing scenario from coming to fruition in Chicago, we strongly encourage all Jews to continue to patronize their local all-kosher Shomer Shabbos food stores.

May our beloved community continue to grow and flourish.
At the end, there is a list of Rabbis printed in a handwriting-style font. There are no signatures, and no indication of where it came from. I know for a fact that there are several rabbis on this list that do not endorse this anonymous letter or views it expresses. (UPDATE 10/26: I don't actually "know for a fact." I heard "around" that there were rabbis represented here that weren't asked about it. Either way, the onus is on the letter to prove that the rabbis listed did endorse this. I would be surprised if more than half the names did. I would be surprised if any of them was asked prior to publication.) This letter is BS. I resent the fact that the sender is too chicken to sign his name. I resent the fact that there are no signatures and the sender is trying to pass off a signature font as somehow being related to signatures.

I understand the importance of keeping the smaller stores. That will ensure competition, which will ensure Kosher excellence for years to come. The problem is that the competition right now is stagnant. There are some Kosher places here, that have done nothing to improve service over the years. The only changes made at a restaurant with a 'no-Jewel' sign in the window has been to serve less meat in the dishes and raise prices. The best place to get Kosher meat is only open during standard business hours and only till 3 PM on Sundays. I'm not saying that they can compete with low-prices and 24-hour availability, but they should give the Chicago Jewish community more. They need to try a little harder. I do not accept the reasoning that the Kosher consumers owe our long-time stores anything. You want to stay in business? Show us you care about keeping our business. How far should I go out of my way, so you can stay in business?

UPDATE 10/26: I did a little more investigation. The letter came from a local, frum, Jewish organization. It was faxed around to various Rabbis, and some of them agreed with the letter in principle. The idea was that it was going to be a letter requesting that the community support our local Jewish-owned businesses. They did not approve of the strong anti-Jewel message which is present in the letter. They did not approve of the way it went out anonymously. I know for a fact (I mean it this time) that at least one rabbi was very embarrassed by this letter, and wished his name wasn't on there. I maintain that this letter was put out the wrong way, and its message was not signed and not approved by all the rabbis on this list.

"I know for a fact that there are several rabbis on this list that do not endorse this anonymous letter or views it expresses."

Really now? And how do you know that? What Rabbis were "forged" pray tell?

Every single one was "forged." There weren't any signatures.

Prove to me that they all agree.

I corrected my post. Check for the update.

I dont need to prove shit. I really dont even care. But you said it was a fact that the rabbis didnt approve the letter, and I'm calling you out on that. You of all people should know better being that you stick it to anyone who doesnt present facts.

State sources of proof or dont mislead us.

I recognize that you updated your post. Thank you.

That's why I opened the comments. Now we can have an open forum - to quest for truth, and to swear. I will not mislead you again, fucker.

Velvel, there is virtually no way that the family-owned stores can compete with the chain-stores on price or hours. It's just not economically feasible. The big places can always undercut the little guys. This has been the way things work since the first supermarket put the first ma&pa grocery store out of business.

The only thing the little guys can do is trade on customer loyalty. Give good service and good products. Try to personalize. Get things the big guys can't or won't get.

And yes, the community should make it their business to patronize them. I don't think one Jewel is going to put all the grocers out of business, but some will likely close. Once they all close, you'll have no leverage over what Jewel will do.

My dad owned one of the first video stores in Queens. Blockbuster opened and undercut him. He closed. Blockbuster is now charging double what he did.

I agree, the letter is a little offensive. But these guys are fighting for their parnoso. And the other guys don't play by the same rules.

I agree with the sentiment, and I am against big corporations coming in and putting little guys out of business. That's a fact of life.

The problem is that the little guys haven't been respecting their customers. We don't have any "leverage" over what the Jewish stores do, anyway. The same complaints of service and prices have been there for years. I anticipate prices going up in Jewel, but at least we will have better service. The service at many local Jewish establishments stinks. I would like to see some effort on the part of the little guy, to show us why they deserve to stay in business.

I agree with Velvel in that the little guys are mostly pricks anyways. They might be forced into being nice to us for change.

Also, you tried to present to me something as fact when you knew very well that what you were impling was pulled directly out of your ass. You may have confirmed that One of the rabbis didnt like the verbiage, but you still lied. Fucker.

Keep the comments open. This is great, I finally get to have a word in edgewise with your sorry ass.

I know for a fact that the same thing happened in the city I grew up in, only it actually stimulated increased competition from other area grocery stores. End result = More stores carrying a wider variety, at competitive prices and consumers demanding higher quality from existing locations.

One of the stores happens to make a killa 8 piece fried chicken dinner too. Just ask Ellio.

One of the most glaring problems with the letter is not the forged signatures, but rather the assertion that "Without competition, prices could be raised, the range of products and variety of brands could diminish, ... and overall quality of service to the communities needs can suffer." Isn't that exactly what has happened with many of the one-kosher-store communities?

I'm sorry, you can't attack the other guy for being anti-competition while trying to prevent him from becoming your competition!

On another note, I agree with the people who indicated that the era of the friendly neighborhood kosher stores (butcher, bakery, etc.) is all but gone, and in it's place are a bunch of upstarts that largely prey on kosher consumers as if we were fish in a barrel (think about the way prices have a way of doubling or even tripling before Pessach).

Don't confuse loyalty to a new breed of greedy small retailers (who will fleece us at the drop of a Borsalino) with nostalgia for a bygone era.


Don't forget the amazing Kosher Bakery WOOHOO

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