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New York’s Hunts Point

Making changes at the half-century mark
New York Spotlight_MS

“A lot of people are investing in their space,” confirms Margiotta. “Best case scenario: you get a deal done in the next couple of years, and it will still take five to seven years before the ink is dry and ground is broken. If a deal was done tomorrow, I would still have seven years of brand new coolers, so it’s worth it to put the money in.”

Rolling Up
Fewer, bigger, full-house merchants have been the trend at Hunts Point over the past several years. Those who can are buying more space and expanding, those who can’t are selling and moving out.

“A few years ago, we transitioned to being a full-service house and initially added berries,” says Steve Koster, in sales for E. Armata, Inc. “The berries were a tremendous addition and the program is still going strong. During the last renovation, we added potatoes and onions and a few units to our operation.”

NYC_Fresco Boxes_MSPhotograph courtesy of Fres Co.

Koster says the new unit on Row A was for ‘wet’ vegetables such as scallions and broccoli and produce needing ice, and the company recently closed on four more units. “We’re currently gutting and renovating those into state-of-the-art condition and they’ll house fruit. Once we’re done, we’ll have 18 continuous units on Row A.”

Many of the smaller wholesalers have thrown in the towel, making way for the much larger, full-service houses. Factors influencing the shift include big retailers and distributors who want a wider selection, guaranteed supply, and consolidated services, as well as the new food safety implementations coming into play.

“The heyday of the independent wholesaler—10 to 15 years ago—does not exist anymore,” explains Gabriela D’Arrigo, marketing director at D’Arrigo Bros. Company of New York, Inc. “There have been a lot of changes including e-commerce and food safety regulations. To be a relevant business today, being full-service is absolutely key.”

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” observes Joel Fierman, president at Joseph Fierman & Son, Inc. “When the market opened, there were 130 merchants and it was 100 percent occupied. Now, there are 32 merchants and it is still 100 percent occupied.”