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Massive Asian Market Open In Bensonhust (photos)

Jmart on 18th Avenue at 82nd Street opened this Saturday.

People came on foot, by car, by bicycle, and the place was packed, testing parking lot’s capacity and layout (the one entrance and exit onto 18th Ave is going to be problematic, especially for left turns). But on Saturday they were not charging for parking.

The supermarket was overrun by customers on Saturday afternoon, and the following is a glimpse of offerings, by no means comprehensive. Some thoughts at the end.

There is lots of fresh produce:

There were great deals to be had on everything, from corn, to rice, to watermelons and more.

  

Rows of frozen delicacies:

 

Though at times the sheer number of choices and customers was overwhelming.

There are big fish and meat sections:

 

Lots of dried prawns and more:

Lines to checkout were moving slow and wrapped around the fresh produce section.

There were whole isles stocked with just soy sauce, ramen and candies:

There were regular eggs, along with fresh and preserved quail and duck eggs.

For those looking for non-asian products, there is bread, polish kielbasa, cereal and ice cream, as well as tons of fresh fruit and veggies.

I will certainly be back, most likely with a neighbor in tow who can explain what is what – there is much to learn for the uninitiated.

Neighbor Carmen Molina says she was pleasantly surprised at their “large shelf of Goya Foods… It’s like having the selection present and divided among all the small stores in the neighborhood in one: red, white, black, pinto beans, Jasmine, white, brown, large, medium, basmati rice, lentils, coconut milk, corned beef,  roast beef, potted meat, four types of Spanish olives, mojo criollo, cooking wine, olive oil, adobo and boxed Spanish yellow rice. Also there are other latino brands, like Maggi and Canilla.”

This does not sound good for the future of the small stores.

Shoppers were glad with the variety, and happy with the deals. Their regular prices were in line with other neighborhood markets: 2 big mangos for $3.99 and $0.89 per pound of papaya. The products seemed to be about 80% asian, a mix of Japanese, Korean and Chinese for certain, but I did not succeed at exploring the entire store and I’m sure I missed some.

“Even for us this is overwhelming, because they have not just Chinese but Korean and other asian countries produce in the same place. For one thing now you have many options”,  a Chinese family with three generations present concurred.

Judging by the crowds, this store will do very well.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. staff was not friendly to those who are not asian. No one was greeting on OPENING DAY????????? I dont feel that this store has a the variety of non-asian products as an originally mentioned in article about this store. I wont be back… highly disappointed.

  2. I went on opening day. Very crowded as shown. No one greeting, however this was a “soft” opening and the “grand” opening is scheduled for later this month. It was impossible to walk all of the aisles with the huge crowd but the vegetable selection looked amazing and I look forward to going back when the crowd normalizes to see everything. My only interaction with staff was at checkout and that was no better or worse than at any other mobbed supermarket I’ve been to.

  3. Why is anyone complaining that they weren’t greeted??? It’s a supermarket! I’ve been in many other different ethnic supermarkets and I’ve never been greeted. Soft opening or not, it shouldn’t matter. People just want to make a big deal out of nothing.

  4. I look forward to checking this store out, it looks amazing and I will just wait for the crowds to slow down.

  5. After visiting the store today to see what it is like, i decided that the parking situation is the least of the problems. It is a huge store, obviously lots of money was spent to make it look so nice BUT, Oh my God, IT STINKS. The smell of fish is nauseating. Under the fish displays are tanks holding live fish. The tanks are small and the fish are giant. They can’t move, laying completely still and there were dead fish in with the live ones. It is beyond disgusting. I will say that they did have a large selection (actually only part of one aisle) of Goya products and ingredients to make mexican food. I did see a very small selection of ronzoni pasta, polly-o products and some cans of tomatoes. It is absolutely 98% asian products and not everything has an english label. It is certainly NOT a replacement for Waldbaums, welcoming everyone in the neighborhood. Will not be shopping here. The fish tanks alone are enough to make you sick.

  6. Thanks for the info on the fish section, Linda. I figured I would wait a few weeks to check it out but now I’m not so sure I’ll be doing that.

  7. The store is mostly Asian products about 98% . It smells really bad . The tanks of fish don’t look sanitary. I had to leave the smell was gagging me. I can only imagine the smell will be worse when they are open for a while. This is nothing like walbaums. I won’t be back.

  8. Unfortunately, I can only blame my own community for letting this atrocity happen. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Asian markets, mostly because you cannot prove where their poultry and fish come from. I know people who regularly do lead testing on these items and these kinds of markets consistently fail, not to mention the many unsanitary and crowded conditions ( huge fire hazard ). HOWEVER, playing Devil’s Advocate, this is the kind of business that will kill the Asian mom-n-pop stores. Just when they were trying to capitalize on the Asian Bensonhurst Boom, here comes a chain from Queens and just takes over the entire shopping area. Beware, you residents will soon learn that this was never a good idea from the start, not even for the consumer.

  9. Bklyner, this is an embarrassingly poorly written article. Not only is it rife with grammatical and punctuation errors, but it is filled with misinformation. There are no dried insects at Jmart, and every product has an English label on the shelf (not all products have English on the label, but the shelf is a guarantee).

    That said, the negativity surrounding Jmart’s opening, while not exclusive to this article, smacks of the racial prejudice simmering between Bensonhurst’s American-born residents and the “new” wave of Asian immigrants that has been increasing since the 1990s. Instead of borderline hazing your new Chinese neighbors, why not empathize with them? Did your grandparents from Italy, Ireland, and Russia not endure the same xenophobia upon their arrival here? These folks are working to reach the American dream, like some of us American-born folks were so lucky to have achieved. Let’s welcome them with open arms.

    See you at Jmart.

  10. I agree with other opinions and would like to add my own opinion additions. I have seen a large delivery truck getting stuck by the booth inside (and another truck also trying to get in in back of it). The jam was cleared but it started to cause a few cars to wait. This is supposedly​ on a good day. Imagine the pileup along the 18Ave both directions including towards that booth itself. I think this area should have been assessed by an Engineer; before placing that booth to direct the cars. You can’t move the playground or the Milestone Park. You can’t move the building either. You can’t change the geography easily this was Old Uthrecht anyway I think? Are you going to tear down the neighborhood just so you have more room? This is so common sense coming from a civilian. I think the booth should be studied by those that can make a decision in these things. The honking of the cars even in the morning seems to have increased.

    Also I have left the store. I can’t read any Asian language the Asian letters also were posted large. What if I’m allergic to this food? What am I eating it does not even look American? I’m not Asian hardly anything to buy for my family. Even my neighbors agree.

  11. LOL @ MTS: “waahhh it’s note for me!! it doesn’t support white people’s tastes!!!”

  12. I dont see how this place is any different from the big Asian super markets around 8th avenue.

  13. @leeeeeeeeegggggg and @Judi T – so what if no one was greeting on opening day!?!? This is not a department store like JCPenney’s or Macy’s. Have you ever been to Whole Foods or other supermarkets? When you go to Bensonhurst BJ’s, do they greet you? NO! They only ask for your membership. These are supermarkets people, can’t expect a warm welcome.

    @Linda – I can’t say much about tanks being too small for the fishes or the supermarket putting the dead fish with the live fish. However, yes fish and seafood do have a smell, but have you ever been to an Asian supermarket or a fish market? If you have been either/or what did it smell like inside?

  14. No one greets me in Waldbaums back in the day. Agreed with the fish smell and the traffic mess. Doubt it will kill the mom & pop Asian grocery stores as the prices are average to a bit more expensive as they have more expenses (more checkout clerks, significantly higher electric bill). Unless they have a website listing their weekly deals, I don’t see a reason for people that aren’t in walking distance to come by here over their local supermarket.

  15. LOL @ MTS: “waahhh it’s note for me!! it doesn’t support white people’s tastes!!!”

    Let me fix it for you LOL @ MTS: “waahhh it’s not for me!! it doesn’t support white people’s tastes!!!”

    Now let me respond to your statement towards me. You did target me personally with your feedback; using my first last name initials for your screen name as well. First of all “lol” this is not really funny it has no amusement aspects what is happening here. Second of all where in my original comment did I say what you have mentioned of my ” tastes” and “whites?” Maybe: I say oranges, you say apples. I say blue, you say red, I say 2+2 is 4, you say 5. For someone that knows what I’m thinking you’re pretty wrong. I can assume it as you’re (contraction of you are) the one not respecting what whites like. I was raised and grew up in this neighborhood before you likely(making an assumption here like you did before) have come here. Now the biggest supermarket catering to diversity closes. This new store was not built in some conspicuous area of Bensonhurst but the heart of Bensonhurst itself; and that which also joins the neighborhood historical areas. Catering to specifically one group of people mostly (90%?) of the items.

    Not only has this store proven to me that diversity does not mean anything much. With the majority of food being sold there(Pay attention the “there” as over there, not a possession as “their” or they are.). Yeah, “white people tastes,” and my craving for diversity. This certainly must mean that I’m only concerned for the white people? Do you exactly know already that I’m white too? I can’t comprehend those certain labels well. Neither can other races because this is not an eyesight or personal problem. The labels are not clear in English it if at all in English on some. I have only made a quick glance the store was packed. What my initial impressions are the English is small and the Asian letters are big on the English labeled items(certain items).
    Although the Asians now make up the majority of Bensonhurst other groups still exist and will continue to do so. That tilt may change at anytime as well in proportion but not go away.

    Now, please do not bother responding to me because so far your response in figure of speech has hurt my brain beyond belief. I’m done opinionating to someone who clearly is aggressive towards me. I won’t respond to you that I can promise to you (as I’m done). I’m typing on a 5 inch screen any mistakes are from inconvenience.

  16. I do not usually post but some of these comments are just absurd. Here is my opinion on some of the comments that stood out.

    Greeting Customers – As others have noted, who goes to a supermarket expecting to be greeted? Did Walbaums do that before they went belly up? I know Pathmark did on 14th ave did not (before it was also shut down).

    Diversity – I agree that supermarkets should have a large variety of products catering to all the members of the neighborhood. However, it is simply economics of supply and demand when the owners stock primarily Asian products because ultimately those are their customers. I know it sucks when the local supermarket ignores your needs and you have to go out of your way to shop. Pathmark on 14th ave never stocked anything Asian. I never went to the Walbaums that went bankrupt, but I doubt they supplied Asian goods either. Point is, everybody who is complaining now was not complaining then. Not saying its right. Just the other side of the coin.

    Fish – Obviously fish smell. The people who do not know this are the ones who buy their fish on ice or in a packet. Asians believe in fresh produce and seafood, hence the tanks and the smell. It is a price shoppers are willing to pay for fresh food. To complain about the fish in the tanks are insane. They ware selling you live fish/crab/lobster/shrimp etc at an affordable price. This is fresher than any “catch of the day” you can get at a local restaurant.

    Unsanitary – I think the displays and the amount of foot traffic actually gives it the impression that the place is unsanitary. The Asian Supermarkets clean up daily at the end of the day just like any other market. The difference is in the amount of traffic that these supermarkets get. The volume is probably 5x that of an American supermarket. The reason being is that Chinese people believe in shopping for groceries daily vs Americans weekly or bi-weekly. The place is going to be messy when you have that much volume shopping for produce and seafood daily.

    btw – i’m Asian American so I enjoy all types of good food.

  17. I have been in the neighborhood for almost 3 years and was very saddened by Waldbaums closing about 1.5 years ago. I went in to Jmart today excited because we were told that they were going to have products to serve all of the community. I left livid. One aisle of cereal, bread and other carb like products and half a frozen food section for pizzas, snacks and a limited variety of frozen vegetables does not serve this very diverse community. Not when there is an entire aisle of noodles and soup products. I went in with a simple list, knowing I wouldn’t find everything I needed, but left angry when I was looking for olive oil and they had 1 brand. On an aisle of 100 different kinds of Asian sauces, they couldn’t carry a better variety of olive oil? (And please no one comment back that I can buy that at Frank and Sal’s… not when they majority of the store’s products can also be bought 4 blocks down.) This community needed another general grocery store where they could buy a variety products. Not wade through the aisles realizing the product names, nutritional information and other information were largely in Chinese.

  18. Ethnic markets and supermarkets have been a part of Bensonhurst for a while and NOW some people are just taking notice? You see only Jmart, but what about Net Cost a few blocks down from it? It serves mostly the Russian and Eastern European community with the types of food that are sold. Face it-this is New York and immigrant friendly–just as it was for generations. You cannot force people to buy and only eat what anyone presumes is American cuisine. What a dull world it would be!

  19. Okay folks to all those complain that there are too many Asian supermarkets that are around here.. let me remind you that this was an all italian neighborhood once..before any Asian supermarket, asians had to go to Chinatown to lug home their ethnic food. Slowly it expanded to 8th ave.. lugging home what they needed. I did not see any markets catered to Asians..then the neighborhood change because a lot of Italians move out by selling out.. area is changing. And the big chains supermarket are closing too..what you are witnessing is that yeah i want my kind of food in the neighborhood but just take a look. The neighborhood is changing and nobody is going to stock food to go bankrupt. People can complain.. but this is a reality.. all this big chain supermarket could not survive. It might be in English but nobody bought it.. complain about it but this is life.. going forward they will still survive with or without your patronage.. you can ask and go through the flow like how us Asian first got here. Learn to cope with it.. or complain and dwindle down like the others.. first generation never complain. And honestly when you shop it really doesn’t matter if I right in English or Chinese the item is there an apple in English is the same thing in Chinese .. it’s an apple.. if you want people to jump over you.. greet you , smile at you. And just to serve you.. then it’s buyers beware because if any supermarket has time to talk then their products are mostly expired.. if you do not like what they sale, you really think they care? They make money hand over feet.. losing out on people that complain was in their calculations already because they do not care if you do not go there.. but if you do go you can learn a lot or carry some items that you can not get anywhere else.. your choice no biggie

  20. yep. That’s like me complaining that there is too many Kosher Supermarkets in Boro Park. I actually get stared at when I walk in there which makes it a little uncomfortable actually. At lease the Asian markets don’t give you funny looks. I also don’t think they care if I stop shopping there as their is not a single Asian item to be found.

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