Taking Stock

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Ravitz Family Seeks ‘Ownership’ Of Camden With Announcement Of Second New Store 

When the Ravitz family announced in March 2013 that it would build the first new supermarket in under-served and economically challenged Camden, NJ in more than 30 years, it was a win/win/win situation for the fourth generation family-owned retailer, its co-op parent, Wakefern Food Corp. and the consumers who live in one of the most isolated of all food deserts in the Northeast.

That 75,000 square foot ShopRite, located at South 17th Street and Admiral Wilson Boulevard, isn’t scheduled to open until 2016, but there’s exciting breaking news to report: the Ravitzes will open a second Camden store, a PriceRite discount supermarket in what once was a Pathmark store on Mt. Ephraim Avenue, about 3.5 miles from the soon-to-be built ShopRite. The Pathmark store closed last September. The 43,000 square foot PriceRite will also become the second “extreme value” unit to be owned by one of Wakefern’s members, (Inserra’s will open the first non-corporate PriceRite later this summer Garfield, NJ, it was announced last month.) The Camden discount unit is expected to open this fall.

“My family and I are grateful to our new Camden neighbors for the opportunity to bring them not only one, but two new supermarkets,” said Jason Ravitz, VP of retail operations for the South Jersey independent, who along with his two brothers, Shawn and Brett, his father Steve and his uncle Ron, continue to expand the company’s growth initiative. The company was founded by Steve and Ron’s Russian immigrant grandfather, Dave, more than 100 years ago. And their dad, Stanley, continued the tradition of strong service retailing. Stanley Ravitz passed away in 2001 and was one of the finest retailers and greatest entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.

When Stanley Ravitz decided to expand his North Philadelphia store – Dave’s Market – to suburbia in 1968 with the opening of his first Shop ‘n Bag supermarket, it was the beginning of a new era for the family. That store, located at Kings Highway and Chapel Avenue, would lead to the Ravitz family becoming the dominant retailer in the Cherry Hill area of South Jersey.

The Ravitz family currently operates five stores in the Cherry Hill area – and while still dominant, have seen their share of market impacted by the openings of two high-volume Wegmans in 2006. More competition is coming when Whole Foods opens its second area location June 18, a 47,000 square foot former Genuardi’s unit at Ellisburg Circle in Cherry Hill (a smaller Whole Foods in Marlton, NJ opened in 1998). Now the Ravitzes are seeking to stake out new territory to potentially reclaim local market dominance. And while Camden and Cherry Hill may be only seven miles apart, the cultural, demographic and socioeconomic differences between the two largest cities in South Jersey may as well make them thousands of miles apart.

However, the Ravitz family is battle-tested and, like other ShopRite owners, is tenacious and ultra-competitive. Wakefern has committed itself to becoming an industry leader in urban retailing (with Jeff Brown serving as its “poster boy”) And PriceRite, in my opinion, created and operates the best of all the “extreme value” models.

I like their odds of succeeding. And it couldn’t happen to nicer people.