The Israeli religious establishments curse it, and the secular community loves it; but the reality is that the Tiv-Taam chain of non-Kosher supermarkets is fast on it’s way to becoming the number one supermarket network in Israel. And this is in spite of several very provocative television programs such as the consumer watch dog show ‘Kolboteck’ that revealed substandard poultry products being sold there. Why has this company, whose stores have been in existence for more than five years, managed to become so successful, despite efforts to smear it and even close it down? The answer is class.
Yes, class, that word which is often used to describe someone or something really special; and that is a cut above other entities, despite it being not available to more than 60% of the public who profess to keeping either mildly or strictly Kosher. Keeping to their motto: “there is no type of meat that we don’t sell, these truly up-scale, European style of supermarkets offer everything from pork to rabbit, to ostrich to wild game, and all kinds of sea foods as well. Though in the beginning the first Tiv-Taam stores were heavily patronized by Israel’s Russian speaking population and occasional foreign diplomats, it didn’t take long for the Israeli “Sabra” population to become avid customers as well. Anyone going into a Tiv-Taam branch on a Saturday (that’s right, Saturday) morning will see the store literally full of people, purchasing everything from a few ‘odds and ends’ to the week’s grocery list. Though more expensive than most other supermarkets, the price of one’s shopping foray can be offset by purchasing an annual “minui” or membership, which entitles the card holder to daily discounts on many featured items.
The network also claims to have one of the largest beverage selections, including foreign wines and beer. Items such as Oriental and even Mexican-type foods are available as well, making the chain very useful for people planning parties and other events. Each store also has its own ‘in-house’ bakery, with everything from freshly baked breads to a rich variety of cakes and cookies. As for their dairy department, the network has perhaps the most varied assortment of European cheese available in Israel, with everything from real English cheddar to the best Swiss, Italian and Scandinavian cheeses.
For most of its patrons, the Kolboteck and other programs did not deter them from shopping in these stores, which are open till 8 p.m. on Fridays, and from 10 a.m. on Saturday. Chicken and other poultry products are still sold there, and people still buy. One wonders why other meat items were not dramatized by the media, whose partial intensions (at least by the religious community anyway) may be to close down the highly successful network. Despite this, and having to pay numerous fines for selling ‘treif’ and being open on weekends and religious holidays (expect Yom Kippur), the chain appears to be going from strength to strength, and the chain’s owner and board chairman, Yaakov Tribitch, is laughing all the way to the bank. His corporation, Tiv-Taam Carmel Holding Ltd was listed by Dunsguide’s 100 as the 49th largest corporation in Israel for 2006.
Supermarket chains offering Kosher food products, such as Mega and Supersol, have adopted some of Tiv-Taam’s merchandising layout ideas in order to keep from loosing business from ‘those upstarts’. The bottom line is that people who only purchase Kosher food will never set foot in Tiv-Taam; and that those who relish the chain’s products have them available. As cable TV is now common on Shabbat, and many shopping malls are open as well, so are stores like Tiv-Taam, offering people what they want and when they want it.