Grocery Stores and Newspapers at Odds in Boro Park

Boro Park (Photo by Robert S, Creative Commons license)

[Update: According to The Forward, “the war between Brooklyn’s kosher grocery stores and the Orthodox Jewish press is over, for now.”]

In Boro Park, many grocery store racks usually stacked with Orthodox Jewish newspapers now sit empty as a feud between grocery stores and 20 publishers escalates. According to The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis, grocers want newspaper wholesale prices to be slashed but publishers are refusing, instead selling their newspapers off trucks dispersed around the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Unlike much of the U.S., newspapers are thriving in Boro Park, where most of the Orthodox population does not have a television or use the internet.

Today, newsstands in Boro Park grocery stores regularly sell more than two dozen Orthodox-focused publications, including two English-language dailies, three Yiddish-language weeklies, and a large assortment of weekly and monthly magazines.

The grocery stores say that they helped that Orthodox media industry grow by paying high prices for Orthodox publications. Now, they want a bigger piece of the action.

A letter sent by the new Boro Park United Grocers Association, with the signatures of some 40 grocery store owners, called for lower wholesale prices.

“For many years when the newspaper industry was small… we felt we were doing a service to our customers and to you by providing kosher reading material,” the grocers wrote in their demand letter. “We did actually contribute to the growth of your business and in a relatively short few years it has grown into a major industry.”

Nathan-Kazis states that groceries in the neighborhood are feeling the pressure from a low-cost wholesale kosher store that’s part of an Israeli chain looking to expand in the U.S. Go to The Forward to find out how this factors into the dispute and where it stands now.

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