Here’s a quick trivia quiz: Which major kosher market in the US includes as many as 340,000 people, involves major chains like Shoprite and Wal-Mart and is valued in the tens of millions of dollars and last only about ten weeks? Beginning this week, you are correct if you said the Catskill Mountains. Spending a day in the Catskills this week, I watched as truck after truck filled local kosher supermarket shelves in preparation of the influx of tens of thousands of vacationers. Many take-out stores and restaurants that serve this market all year to the South open stores in the Catskills. Major stores like Pomegranate and Chestnut sell their brand salads and dips through other stores in the Catskills to keep their brand fresh and alive during the long summer.
For large supermarkets in New York and Monsey, the challenge is to keep even the Catskill customers during the summer. That is why they offer shoppers special insulated boxes for the trip to the Catskills. Price Chopper’s in Colonie, NY with its plethora of kosher products in its ads invites travelers to Montreal to stop at the store. Its Lake George store features kosher products for vacationers there. The concept of going where the customer is can be lucrative and for purveyors the summer months is more than just an adjustment in the location of its customers.
Industry sources tell me that it is far from a trade-off as shoppers often stock two homes and the sales reflect the significant bump. The amazing part of this annual phenomenon is how quickly this ten week market gets going and how just as quickly it shuts down come the end of August and early September.