Activity in the Outer Boroughs
In the outer boroughs, some chains are moving in. Stop & Shop, which was a little-known name when it acquired and converted some Edwards stores more than a decade ago, has more recently returned to the city with a cleaner image. Today the Ahold-owned banner operates 14 stores in the boroughs and another in nearby Yonkers, N.Y., spokeswoman Arlene Putterman told SN. Its most recent additions are three former King Kullen sites on Staten Island. Those stores originally were Pathmark and/or Waldbaums locations that federal antitrust officials mandated be spun off when A&P and Pathmark merged.
Staten Island is beginning to resemble communities surrounding the city where the conventional grocers Stop & Shop, A&P and ShopRite are longtime rivals. ShopRite has the smallest presence of that trio in the city but indications are the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative banner has an appetite for more. ShopRite has been mentioned as a likely supermarket tenant for a proposed high-profile shopping center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard site. Wakefern officials insist no deal is done and would say only that it remains interested in opportunities here. The ShopRite banner currently flies at one site in Brooklyn operated by Glass Gardens and at two Staten Island locations owned by Mannix Family Supermarkets.
Wakefern products including the ShopRite brand are also making their way into the city more than ever before. Catsimatides of Gristedes said his stores are buying nearly 70% of its goods from Wakefern today, up from 50% when their deal was struck two years ago. More recently the Brooklyn-based Bogopa Service Corp., parent of the Food Bazaar independent chain, reached out to Wakefern to bolster its supply of ethnic goods at its stores.
Founded and run by Francis An, who was born in Korea, raised in Argentina, and lived in Canada before coming to New York, Food Bazaar’s 16 locations — 13 in New York City — aspire to provide authentic foods favored by immigrant shoppers in particular neighborhoods they reside. Bogopa is a Korean phrase meaning “yearning for you,” the company said. Its stores call themselves “Your Home Away from Home.”
“We feel we have a good understanding of the customer’s needs where we have stores,” Justin Shon, director of corporate affairs for Bogopa, told SN. “We go to great lengths to try to find the products that our customers really need, and make them feel like they’re getting food from home.”
Bogopa has been one of the most active companies taking advantage of incentives offered by the city’s FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) program, which can grant tax relief and zoning assistance to food retailers locating in underserved communities. Food Bazaar has received approval for financial incentives at six properties, with projects including an expansion of its Bushwick, Brooklyn, store and the replacement of refrigeration equipment at a Bronx store.
“Business has been fair,” Shon said. “We struggle along with many of our customers. But we’re doing our best to keep up with the competition and we think we’re up to the task.”