Frum Grocery Stores Closing Because Shoppers Owe Tens of Thousands of Dollars


kosher-poultryA small Flatbush grocery  that was known for its creativity in fruit baskets suddenly closed its doors last week, but the culprit, say food sources, was not the highly successful upscale Pomegranate kosher supermarket, only blocks away, but the mounting “crush of the book.”

Fruit Palace on Avenue J in Brooklyn was one of those small convenience kosher produce and grocery stores that competed with the larger establishments by extending credit to the hard-pressed middle class.

Many stores in the area and especially in communities like Boro Park and Williamsburg keep such black ruled school notebooks with pages of family names where groceries are routinely charged.

Sources say Fruit Palace’s book included “a crushing debt of thousands of dollars” that had resulted in a growing accounts payable by the store’s owner.

One Boro Park store told a source close to KosherToday that his book was “worth over $26,000.”

A worker at Fruit Palace said that customers would frequently drop of checks of a fraction of the debt, “say $100 on a $400 bill.”

Still many customers blamed Pomegranate as severely impacting business of local retailers, although distributors and other food sources say that most of the stores “while hurting are pretty much holding their own.” One source said that a well-known kosher grocer told him: “I’m taking home a lot less nowadays but it is still a parnassah (livelihood).”

The families who put charges on the books are not necessarily from the ranks of the poor, say the sources. Many of the poor use food stamps and other assistance. The group that seems most affected by the recession and by the increased costs of living is lower middle class working people, many with larger families. One store owner said: “I always think that they are in a temporary bind, but somehow the temporary never ends.”

{Kosher Today-Menachem Lubinsky}{Noam Newscenter}


  1. it’s very nice for a store owner to extend credit but he should’t do it on the backs of his suppliers. im not saying thats what happened in fruit palace but i personally know of many store owners who extend credit to get a sale and keep a customer and then stonewall their suppliers and dont pay for many months if at all!!

  2. i surely hope the people who owe money go to the owner ASAP & pay it up before its forgotten about altogether, so they don’t have to C”V come back to this world (the olam Hasheker)in a different gilgul to pay it back

  3. reply to 1.
    i don’t think that we should judge the people that couldn’t afford to pay… on the contrary, bless them that they will have enough to pay all their bills.
    reply to 2.
    why do you have to mention theoretical negative practices in a column that is discussing names (would you want it done if it were you)??

    fruit palace is a tzaddik of a business man. may hashem bless him that he should be very matzliach in his next business.

  4. You probably have something against pomegranate. A lot of kosher businesses are in heavy debt due to accepting credit that keeps building. A lot of people CAN AFFORD to pay but go on credit anyways. Its pure Rishis!

  5. as a store owner i see some customers owe us over 1,000 dollars then are embaressed to come in & they shop elsewere and pay cash.

  6. its sad but what goes around comes around. When this store opened up many rabanim forbid him from opening because he would hurt blue ribbon which has been there for generations.

    midah kneged mida> this store took alto of business from blue ribbon. Pomegrante is not in the wrong because they charge an average 1.00 to 2.00 on almost every item and people still love to spend more and then complain they have no money.

    We are definitely int he times of moshiach because we are living in crazy times that nobody can explain.

  7. In Chicago only one store gives credit and is therefore a popular option for the yeshivishe oilam. As a result the prices are higher on almost everything with an Obama redistribution of wealth economics. If you can afford a credit card, you can afford to pay a marked up price. Some families who shop there pay the marked up prices out of tzeddakah money.

    Heimishe grocery stores are not viable long term because nowhere does it say a community needs a heimishe grocery store. Let people shop at Jewel or WalMart. However schools are needed for Jewish continuity and will be supported in most cases.

  8. I don’t understand why a grocery would extend credit nowadays(unless out of pure chessed); if the customer doesn’t have cash on hand, let him use a credit card, and if he can’t get a credit card, he’s a bad credit risk for the store. To Chicago: Those who are makpid on “heimishe” hechsheirim, cholov yisroel, pas yisroel, etc. need local frum grocers.

  9. I just hope that before splurging on gifts and wrappings and impressing their friends with Mishloach Manot or buying new outfits for all the children for Pesach – these customers first pay up to this business owner for their account.

    Secondly this problem is a common “sickness” of our times, and that is of trying to live up to a high standard of living they/we cannot afford. Its competition. trying to keep up with “the rosenbergs” on someone elses’ account. Look at america. Bankrupt!!!

  10. I have an issue with HEIMISHE groceries. We, the Frun Oilam are expected to patronize them despite higher prices, inferior goods, out-of-date products and trouble with returns. Yet, we put up with ALL of this nonsense, because, ich main, nu, they are our fellow frum yidden.

    HOWEVER, during these tough times, I don’t see ANY of these same stores hiring (even temporarily) frum Yidden who are out of work. I know many who would take ANY job at this point just to be able to make ends meet.

    WHY NOT? WHY DO THEY PERSIST IN HIRING ONLY hispanics, etc?!?!?!

    It all boils down to a matter of dollars and cents. The hispanics work for less.

    Well, if it IS a matter of dollars and cents, WE SHOULD STOP patronizing them just because “they are our frum brethren” and just shop where the prices are cheaper, the goods fresher, etc.


  11. The author Chicago (#12) is correct.

    The city of Chicago is not a hicktown. The Jewel store has all the heimish brands, glatt, and chalav Yisroel like every heimish store. They have reasonable prices and extend no credit to anyone, you either pay cash, check, credit card, or government food cards. This enables all shoppers to pay competetive prices without paying artificial markups for free customers.

    There are a few organizations supported by the oilam which are meant to be supportive of all people who need food. There is no reason why people should have to pay inflated prices in the one store that willingly chooses to extend free credit to select individuals who are the beneficiaries of the community funded chessed organizations. If the owner wants to do chessed it should be his cheshbon and not balanced on the backs of paying customers.

    Irresponsible business practices shouldn’t be hailed as tzeddakah. The kosher food distributors are now increasing their prices and are forcing stores to pay upfront because of the irresponsible credit offering store owners who couldn’t pay their bills with an IOU book. The credit offering stores end up hurting the entire heimish kosher food industry.