Spotlight on…. Aron Nussencweig
BUSINESS NAME AND POSITION: MOUNTAIN FRUIT, OWNER
LOCATION: 1523 AVENUE M Brooklyn, NY
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 34
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 55
When do you start getting your store ready for Pesach?
Believe it or not, planning begins right after Chanukah. It’s a huge undertaking that requires a collaboration between our buyers and store managers to ensure that we continue to provide our customers with the lowest prices on the highest quality products.
What is involved in making the store kosher l’ Pesach?
You see how hard it is to make your home ready for Pesach, so you can just imagine how hard it must be for a supermarket that is 6,000 square feet. Our premises goes through a thorough scrubbing and organization process. Our kitchen, meat, and fish departments must be kashered. This task requires huge responsibility. It is done by our reliable in-store mashgiach and overseen by the baal hamachsher. This is something I take very seriously. I myself spend more time in the store to make sure everything is done to perfection. Once we complete the kashering process, we can fully stock our shelves fully and make sure our customers have a huge variety at great prices.
Do you hire additional staff to meet the extra work demand?
We definitely have more people working overtime hours to get the job done. We also have to bring in about 10 more people to meet our seasonal demands. We have the best and most dedicated staff, which is why when it comes to hiring additional workers, we first look towards our current employees and see if they can recommend someone. It always works out, and we end up with an industrious crew that does a great job!
What is the process for getting back to chametzdig after Pesach?
Getting it back to chametzdig is almost as time consuming as making the store Pesachdig!
How are you adjusting to the plastic bag ban?
This is a very good question! Unfortunately, it is something that will negatively affect our community since we tend to shop in bulk. It will definitely take time for all to get used to the change. Due to the escalating cost of cardboard boxes, this new law has made it necessary for us to start charging 50 cents for every delivered box and carry-out box. We always try hard to keep prices down as much as possible. We will make reusable bags available to customers.
What is your top selling item?
We are known for our high quality in fruits and vegetables. That is where we do a lot of our business, and that is where we got started. When you bite into produce from Mountain Fruit, you can be assured it was hand-picked with care. We also do a lot of business in takeout and catering. We recently branded our takeout department calling it Racks and Ribs, and it has been growing ever since. Our special dips, kugels, salads, pies, soups, and so much more can now be found in many locations, including Mega 53 and Kosher Discount in Boro Park. Mountain Fruit can now not only fill your weekly shopping needs, but also be hired to cater all your parties, simchos, or any occasion.
What are your workers and management doing to help stop the spread germs?
We are adding to our cleaning routine to make sure we keep on disinfecting all areas. In addition, I instructed all employees to where gloves at all times. This is for the safety of our customers as well as my workers.
What are customers buying in bulk?
Water, toilet paper, Bounty, all canned foods. We even had our customers empty out our chicken to keep in the freezer.
What do you think about all the COVID-19 panic?
As much as this is good for business I feel that people are over reacting. We have full supply of water and everything else. I believe that you need to stock up a bit more but I feel confident that we will still have full supply. In addition, we are stocking up more for Yom Tov as a lot of people are canceling there trips and staying home, so we are upping our inventories with 25-30 % so we don’t run out of important items for the holiday.
How has grocery shopping evolved in the past decade?
Grocery shopping is an aspect of society that’s slow to change. Many retailers are trying to get their customers to use today’s technology. In the past two years, we have invested in our website allowing for easy virtual shopping.
What is the key to surviving in such a competitive industry?
Brooklyn has many fine groceries out there, but we have been around since 1984 when my dear father, Chaim Moshe Nussencweig, first founded Mountain Fruit of Avenue. M. Our secret to success has always been priding ourselves in giving great pricing and service. This is what our customers expect from us.
What are some new items that you’ll stock this season?
We are in talks with some of the best out there and hope to be bringing in a new full line of fresh bakery products. I hope to close on this very soon.
What’s next for Mountain Fruit?
We hope to open other locations in the future.
Anything you wish to add?
Yes. I want to thank all our customers that are shopping with us on during these tough times. All where very understanding that some orders may take a little longer to fill and that lines at the cash register will move a bit slower. With all that said, we got countless calls from customers thanking us for accommodating them. I was really impressed by the overwhelming appreciation to our staff.