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I work for a 4 store chain of employee owned grocery stores in Northern California that feature small, shelf stable, kosher foods sections. In reviewing these sets in our stores I feel like they could use a face lift but I don't feel like I am knowledgeable enough about Kosher foods to do it as well as it could be done. Currently we largely carry Shabbat and Hanukkah (when seasonally appropriate) candles, a few different types of Matzo crackers, tahini, and some Manischewitz products like pasta, chicken broth, potato starch, and gefilte fish.

Basically I'm asking what a Jew might find nice to find in a small kosher set in a suburban grocery store or direction towards any type of kosher foodie internet forums that might exist out there. So far I haven't been able to find the latter searching through google.

Thanks!

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    mic, Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! Thanks, also for your diligence in catering toward your Jewish customers. – Isaac Moses Jan 23 at 19:06
  • Consider viewing some of the circulars of large stores in Brooklyn or Lakewood. – Dr. Shmuel Jan 23 at 19:41
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    FWIW, your current selection is basically what I associate, from experience, with the kosher/Jewish selections of groceries and supermarkets in places that don't see many religiously observant Jews. So at least you're in good company. Toward answering your question: Does one of your regular distributors distribute your Manischewitz products, or is it some specialty distributor? If the latter, I recommend you ask your rep there what he or she recommends for expanding your selection. – msh210 Jan 23 at 21:12
  • This will really depend on what sects of Jews live around there that you are trying to attract. Have you considered polling the customers who presently but your Jewish aimed products? – user6591 Jan 23 at 22:00
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    @useruser6591 That's a good question that didn't occur to me. I was assuming it would be Ashkenazi's but I really don't know. I don't think there's a way to poll our customers without being intrusive but there's a Jewish community center near one of our stores. I should stop by and ask and they might even have some ideas for me! – mic Jan 23 at 22:26
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Community Wiki - feel free to add suggestions

In addition to products mentioned in the OP, here are some suggestions from personal experience as a shopper:

  • Kosher grape juice and kosher wine (made from grapes) are important, as they are typically used for kiddush and havdala.

  • Full-sized matzo (such as this product, where each matzo wafer is 28 grams), as opposed to bite-sized or cracker-sized (such as this product, where each cracker is 3 grams). It's perfectly fine to stock the latter, as well, but the former can be particularly useful to fulfill the requirement of lechem mishne during Sabbath meals (especially if the shopper doesn't have any kosher challah available).

  • Prepackaged kosher poultry (such as the Empire brand) would be welcome in the meat section.

  • Yahrzeit candles, such as the Yehuda brand.

  • During the Passover shopping season, it is essential to ensure that Kosher for Passover matzo is available (many matzo products are kosher for the rest of the year, but not for Passover). In general, it's important to ensure that products are specifically Kosher for Passover during that time of year.

  • Other products that are more important during Passover (and which you might want to shelve in a dedicated Passover section, or at least the normal kosher section) include ground walnuts and cinnamon. I also often see salt stocked in the kosher section.

  • Romaine lettuce1 for maror (or fresh horseradish2 as an alternative) should be available in the produce section before Passover.


1 Ideally certified kosher to ensure an absence of insect infestation - otherwise shoppers will have to go through a painstaking process of cleaning the lettuce at home (although the process is less painstaking if you merely use the stalks). Note that even kosher certified, prepackaged romaine might not be sufficiently reliable in terms of being insect-free. Still, it is almost always either insect-free or nearly so, and is therefore at the very least easier to further clean/inspect/prepare at home.

2 Bottled horseradish (such as Gold's Horseradish) is also a popular product on Passover and year-round. Note, however, that this may not be technically acceptable for maror since it contains vinegar (the mishna disqualifies maror that is "pickled, stewed, or boiled", P'sachim 2:6). Also note that some opinions do not consider horseradish to be acceptable for maror in any form

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    Nice list, but I'd remove ground walnuts from it. They're somewhat perishable with low demand, so are hard to stock, and no one really needs them (you can grind your own easily). Also I'd remove cinnamon, if (I haven't checked) national brands are kosher for Passover. And I'd remove Romaine, as it's in the produce section already and likewise salt as it's carried elsewhere. – msh210 Jan 23 at 23:14
  • @msh210 I often see ground walnuts stocked in the kosher section of supermarkets before Passover (such as It's Delish brand), and I typically buy them out of convenience. I'll defer to your judgment, though, if you want to edit it. You're right about romaine in the produce section. Salt and cinnamon can be found elsewhere, but supermarkets often put them in the kosher section, too. – Fred Jan 23 at 23:17
  • @Fred, as a mashgiach, I wouldn't specifically recommend triple-washed romaine, since it could still be infested with thrips – Noach MiFrankfurt Jan 24 at 20:22
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It will sound crazy but I would suggest Rabbi Moshe Trager who is in California.

He has done a lot of work in his life with both supervision and actually owning and running a kosher restaurant. He’s a very talented and gifted guy.

He may be able to help you in a consulting capacity. He is currently serving as a Mohel in Southern California.

This is his web site.

http://calimohel.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIr6ujnMWb5wIViZ6zCh35nAvFEAAYASAAEgKIhfD_BwE

If you decide to contact him, please tell him Yaacov Deane sends his best regards.

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  • His website says he's in Northern California, which is also the OP's location – Josh K Jan 24 at 6:41
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    Thankyou so much everyone, that community wiki was especially helpful. I'll follow up on some of your leads as well. – mic Jan 24 at 20:55

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