You'll recall that many of the city's supermarkets have been struggling to stay afloat due to high rents, skyrocketing electricity costs, and shrinking profit margins (here's a map). Today Albor Ruiz at the Daily News points to another factor: stiff competition from BJ's, the giant wholesale club store that will soon open two more locations in Brooklyn. But because of the $45 membership fee and BJ's refusal to accept food stamps or subsidies under the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the store is not an option for many lower-income residents.
Joe Verderosso, who owns two Key Food supermarkets in Canarsie, says, "I have lived here all my life, and I know that many people are on tight budgets. They - especially the elderly - need a supermarket in their neighborhood. These club stores put everybody out of business. When they are no longer profitable, they close, leaving behind an empty building and a neighborhood in decay."
Looking to the future, Ruiz warns that unless something is done supermarkets could soon go the way of the old trolley car. The Bloomberg administration has been considering offering economic incentives for supermarket owners, and the mayor has also been pushing for more produce carts in under-served areas. Which would be a good start, because in many neighborhoods the bodega or the snack food aisle of Duane Reade is the only convenient option.