NYC Area Cooperatives

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. No non-grocery posts.
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NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by marketreportblog »

Starting a new thread based on a series of posts from another thread, about the NYC area grocery cooperatives. Key Food (Key Food, Food Universe, Food Dynasty, SuperFresh, The Food Emporium, and others), Krasdale (CTown, Bravo, and lots of smaller stores and bodegas), Associated Supermarket Group (Associated, Met, Pioneer, and Compare), Retail Grocers Group (Fine Fare and Shop Fair), America's Food Basket (Ideal Food Basket), and Allegiance Retail (Foodtown, Freshtown, Pathmark, Green Way, and a few independents).

At this point, it seems to me that long-standing frontrunner Krasdale Foods is increasingly being relegated to smaller stores and bodegas, Key Food is rapidly expanding but it remains to be seen for how long they can maintain their momentum, ASG has had a lot of trouble especially going through the White Rose bankruptcy but is bouncing back with new ownership and quite a few new stores, Allegiance has downsized Foodtown seriously over the years but the remaining stores are generally well-run and in very good shape, and Retail Grocers and AFB seem to just be going along as they have been for a long time.

Key Food, which recently relocated its headquarters to New Jersey from Staten Island, seems to be developing its NJ store base with locations on the way in Jersey City, Middlesex, and Old Bridge (edit: no idea why I wrote Jersey City, there's no coming soon Key Food in JC as far as I know). They also have around 50 stores in Florida, which are all relatively recent. They've taken on a lot from Bravo, along with other brands. Most recently, they've said they intend to double their Florida store base by 2025, as well as working on closing the gaps in the Mid-Atlantic. That's ambitious, but if they want to do so, the low-hanging fruit is converting Compare Foods in the Carolinas/VA/MD areas the same way they've been converting Bravos. There were once two Key Foods in NC (around 2005...?), but they did not last. They're also adding stores in CT, although they recently closed one in Waterbury.

ASG has been adding more higher-end stores as of late, such as Uncle Giuseppe's, Livoti's, and Lincoln Market. Their newer stores are excellent, but they still have the problem that the majority of their store base is very old, pre-White Rose bankruptcy legacy stores that have not gotten very many updates.

Allegiance members have put a lot of money into renovating their stores and opening new ones, so their store base is pretty up-to-date. Their problem remains their weakness in New Jersey. In New York City and the immediate surrounding areas, they seem to do well with some larger, more suburban-like stores. They've added a few independents, such as Shop n Bag in Farmingdale, NJ or Olive Tree Marketplace in Staten Island. But they're sitting on the rights to the Pathmark and FoodBasics name, with one Pathmark in Brooklyn and one FoodBasics out in PA that operated for only a few months before being sold. When you compare that to Key Food's enthusiastic (perhaps overly so) use of the SuperFresh and Food Emporium banners, it's not that impressive and it seems like a big missed opportunity. Pathmark, in my opinion, might be the key to Allegiance's re-strengthening in the New Jersey market, with the right execution, but they're missing out.

And as for Retail Grocers Group and America's Food Basket, not much is really happening. They periodically open, close, and rebrand stores, but they don't seem to be making any large changes. AFB does now have one store in Georgia and three in Florida, and has been opening a few stores in Massachusetts.

So what do we think? These six cooperatives account for almost 1000 stores on the east coast (though many of them are smaller-format urban stores in and around NYC), so they're pretty significant. What do we think is coming next for them? Are we going to see Carolina Key Foods again? Pathmark in New Jersey? What else?
Last edited by marketreportblog on July 27th, 2022, 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by storewanderer »

Who supplies these cooperatives?

I know Key Food recently switched from C&S to UNFI/Supervalu.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by marketreportblog »

storewanderer wrote: April 17th, 2022, 11:58 pm Who supplies these cooperatives?

I know Key Food recently switched from C&S to UNFI/Supervalu.
Key Food is indeed UNFI and uses a private label called Urban Meadow. So is AFB, although they just use Essential Everyday and Wild Harvest.

Krasdale has what appears to be a combination of self-distribution, UNFI, and Federated Group (they sell both UNFI's Wild Harvest and Fed Group's Seven Farms for organics last I saw). Unsure if the Fed Group items come via Bozzuto's. They also use Krasdale branded items.

Allegiance is C&S and KeHE. The latter is a recent switch-over from UNFI. Most stores use Foodtown and Green Way house brands, but some (like Pathmark) use Best Yet. ASG is also C&S. Similarly, most stores use Avenue A and Full Circle, but some use Best Yet in place of or alongside Avenue A.

Retail Grocers uses Parade and Seven Farms from Federated Group, via General Trading.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by BillyGr »

And of course, we can't forget Wakefern, not so much for their own stores (ShopRite) but that they are now also supplying others using that Fresh Grocer name (including ones like Colonia NJ that were once part of Foodtown).

None in NYC proper (yet) but they surely could be an option for that area if owners of the smaller stores wanted to use them?
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by marketreportblog »

BillyGr wrote: April 19th, 2022, 1:49 pm And of course, we can't forget Wakefern, not so much for their own stores (ShopRite) but that they are now also supplying others using that Fresh Grocer name (including ones like Colonia NJ that were once part of Foodtown).

None in NYC proper (yet) but they surely could be an option for that area if owners of the smaller stores wanted to use them?
Fair enough. Wakefern does have a few non-ShopRite, smaller format stores in NYC (those are the Village-owned Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market). So those banners aren't available to the general membership population, but Wakefern does represent something like six small format stores in NYC. I haven't heard anything about Wakefern bringing in The Fresh Grocer to NYC, but I doubt they'd do so on any large scale in the near future. From every indication, the Fairways and Gourmet Garages have not been performing very well. That said, I could see a not-so-distant future in which Wakefern acquires some or all of the Allegiance stores and/or banners -- I could see them wanting some of those NYC locations, and potentially some brands.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by storewanderer »

marketreportblog wrote: April 19th, 2022, 3:27 pm

Fair enough. Wakefern does have a few non-ShopRite, smaller format stores in NYC (those are the Village-owned Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market). So those banners aren't available to the general membership population, but Wakefern does represent something like six small format stores in NYC. I haven't heard anything about Wakefern bringing in The Fresh Grocer to NYC, but I doubt they'd do so on any large scale in the near future. From every indication, the Fairways and Gourmet Garages have not been performing very well. That said, I could see a not-so-distant future in which Wakefern acquires some or all of the Allegiance stores and/or banners -- I could see them wanting some of those NYC locations, and potentially some brands.
Is Fairway doing worse now than it was on its own?

Had a few old Google Shopping orders from Fairway back before they went under (shipping was free), 20+ plus boxes of groceries shipped out here to the west. No way those shipments were a profitable concept. Private label program had some gems.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by marketreportblog »

storewanderer wrote: April 20th, 2022, 11:04 pm
Is Fairway doing worse now than it was on its own?

Had a few old Google Shopping orders from Fairway back before they went under (shipping was free), 20+ plus boxes of groceries shipped out here to the west. No way those shipments were a profitable concept. Private label program had some gems.
From my understanding, yes. You don't have to look far on social media, local blogs, and so on to find various issues that customers are reporting. It's everything from discontinuing favorite and specialty products to poor service to low quality catering to the almost-comical displaying the wrong kosher products at the various Jewish holidays. I visited all of the NYC Fairway stores over the course of summer 2021, and the problems I observed ranged from understaffing to a really weak product mix with a lot of unremarkable generic products. The Chelsea store was by far the worst, with the bakery department inexplicably empty (that's not an exaggeration; the service counter had exactly six cakes in it, there was exactly one pastry in the pastry case, and there were neither fresh bread nor bagels, which Fairway is famous for), the salad bar was filled with meat and cold cuts reduced for quick sale, the hot food bar was filled with packaged cut fruit, the to-order salad/sandwich counter was filled with canned soda, and two staples of Fairway (the store-made mozzarella and sliced-to-order smoked salmon) were completely gone. I observed the same problems, although to less extreme levels, at the other Fairways too. In a way, the Fairways acquired by Food Bazaar in 2020 have retained more of their Fairway-ness than those acquired by Village. The Red Hook and Douglaston Food Bazaars, the two I've been to, took on Fairway's bakery, cheese, and deli programs along with elements of center-store, produce, dairy, and frozen. These factors combined do not paint a rosy picture of Fairway's current state. These are really bizarre problems to have, though, since they are not even present a little bit in Village's excellent NJ ShopRites. So it must be based on the performance of the stores and not Village's management abilities.

But there are other things that are just head scratchers, such as the fact that the circular has a "map" of the locations on the back. I say "map" and not map because it's a screenshot of Google Maps, with the points highlighted in yellow. The four Manhattan stores are labeled, though the two northern ones (74th and 86th Street) are obscured by the text. But it's clear someone just did a search for "Fairway Market" because also labeled in yellow is the warehouse in the Bronx, along with the present but not yellow Food Bazaar in Douglaston. So we show a Food Bazaar and a warehouse, but not the Fairway in Pelham. I mean, come on, guys!
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by storewanderer »

It is odd the Fairway units were not able to just retain what they were doing but I guess it was a distressed asset as it went through bankruptcy and new ownership has had trouble getting them back to what they were. I am not clear if Fairway's problem was it was overloaded with debt causing the company to sink, or if the stores had too high of an operating cost structure and even taking away the debt issue the locations and concept were still just not economically viable.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by marketreportblog »

storewanderer wrote: April 21st, 2022, 6:25 pm It is odd the Fairway units were not able to just retain what they were doing but I guess it was a distressed asset as it went through bankruptcy and new ownership has had trouble getting them back to what they were. I am not clear if Fairway's problem was it was overloaded with debt causing the company to sink, or if the stores had too high of an operating cost structure and even taking away the debt issue the locations and concept were still just not economically viable.
My understanding of it is that Village removed all of Fairway's corporate management and changed all chain administration over to themselves in Springfield, NJ, so they weren't entirely able to just keep going. I also think that Fairway used to be supplied primarily by UNFI but now is only supplied in very small parts here and there by UNFI, and the rest by Wakefern, so there was some necessary change.
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Re: NYC Area Cooperatives

Post by storewanderer »

marketreportblog wrote: April 23rd, 2022, 7:02 am
My understanding of it is that Village removed all of Fairway's corporate management and changed all chain administration over to themselves in Springfield, NJ, so they weren't entirely able to just keep going. I also think that Fairway used to be supplied primarily by UNFI but now is only supplied in very small parts here and there by UNFI, and the rest by Wakefern, so there was some necessary change.
Kind of makes you wonder why they kept the format at all... and didn't just convert to one of their formats. Maybe that is what will end up happening. Too high of a cost structure to let the locations underperform for long.
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