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New York Retailers Exhibit Strength During Adversity


Originally printed in the July 2020 issue of Produce Business.

Metro area supermarkets and independent stores tell a story of relationships, responsibility and resiliency in serving customers and providing stability in unstable times.

With more than 20 million residents, the New York metropolitan area remains, by a significant margin, the most populous in the United States. It also remains one of the largest and most diverse retail environments, as well.

The city’s wholesalers, distributors and retailers face daily challenges in keeping such a large and diverse market fed. “The demographic population in our area challenges us to keep up with various food cultures and ensure we carry it,” says Charlie DiMaggio, president of FresCo LLC, on the Hunts Point Market. “With just the five boroughs of New York City having a population of over eight million people and millions more who commute into Manhattan daily on any given normal day, this presents itself as a daunting task to keep all of the families and restaurants adequately supplied.”

While the New York City metro area encompasses a diverse representation of chains, the majority of stores, especially in the city, are smaller independents. “We generally sell to mom-and-pop retailers,” says Ira Nathel, president and owner of Nathel & Nathel on the Hunts Point Market. “In the city, there aren’t that many big chain stores, so we supply smaller and independent retailers. Specialty stores dominate a good part of the landscape here.”

According to Los-Angeles based market research firm, IBISWorld, New York City accounts for 66.7% of supermarkets and grocery stores in New York State. It reports that, due to both high rents and population density, stores are smaller in size and more numerous. With shoppers having typically higher incomes in these areas, specialty grocery stores and upscale national chain grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are also popular, the report further states.

Besides its diversity, New York is known for its vibrant environment. “New York is a dynamic market and because of the independent stores and restaurants it’s a great place for produce,” says Ronnie Cohen, principal for Vision Import Group in Hackensack, NJ.

The New York marketplace is always busy, states Gabriela D’Arrigo, vice president of marketing and communications for D’Arrigo New York on the Hunts Point Market. “We are the city that never sleeps,” she says.<