Keeping Kosher Competitive

Competition is a good thing, right? That question always comes up when the subject being discussed is competing kosher businesses in what is often a small market. And that question is going to be asked quite a bit in Baltimore with the news that Seasons, a New York-based kosher supermarket chain, plans to open in Pikesville.

But it’s not just that Seasons is coming to town. It is planning to open in very close proximity to the venerable Seven Mile Market on Reisterstown Road.

We all know Seven Mile Market. It has been serving our community’s kosher food needs and more since 1988. And since it moved to its new location two years ago, Seven Mile has expanded its business to include a full-scale kosher bakery and has increased its meat, fish, dry goods and other offerings. The Seven Mile store has become very popular, and it draws customers from as far away as the Washington suburbs. But if Seasons lives up to its self-billing as a “kosher Whole Foods,” it will almost certainly be a strong competitor to Seven Mile. That competition could be good for consumers, as the two stores are forced to compete on range of products, quality, price and service.

Seasons has obviously concluded that our vibrant Jewish community can support a second major kosher market. We hope it is correct. But we know that in order to survive, each of the stores will be working hard to outdo the other. And that should also be good for consumers.

Although we welcome competition, and the expanded benefits it offers, there is an interesting communal dynamic when it comes to kosher businesses that differs from our allegiance to other shops, services and brands. We tend to feel that our kosher businesses are a part of us. And when we lose one, we feel that it diminishes our community. We don’t want to see that happen with our kosher markets.

So, we welcome Seasons to Baltimore and wish it well. At the same time, we are hopeful that both Seven Mile and Seasons will thrive and prosper and help bring new levels of quality and value to our community.

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