New York…Wal-Mart may be years away from opening stores in New York City, but the speculation about its effect on kosher has already begun. City officials say that the mega chain will find fierce opposition to opening in the five boroughs but some kosher food industry officials said that their arrival in the City “was only a matter of time.” A chain of Wal-Mart stores in New York would most likely mean a new major competitor for kosher. In the past few years, stores like Target and Costco have already changed the landscape as more and more consumers shop the club and discount stores. Some kosher food industry officials say that it is not clear which Wal-Mart will show up for kosher. They were apparently referring to the retailer’s mixed reputation with kosher consumers. While Wal-Mart carries kosher products in several hundred stores, it has not been particularly aggressive in pursuing kosher. Vendors say that its Monticello store which caters to some 250,000 vacationing Jews in the Catskills, has not measured up, leaving the territory to independents and chains like Shop-Rite.
Wal-Mart is mounting an aggressive campaign to open stores in New York. It is even willing to forego its traditional model of opening mega stores and instead opening smaller stores, a move that may also allow them to bypass City Council approval. Supporters are already drooling over the prospect of many new jobs, but opponents say that these jobs would only replace existing jobs of small businesses that will be forced to either cut back or go out of business. For kosher consumers a Wal-Mart in New York City with many kosher products may just be what they need, particularly for financially hard pressed families.