New Yorkers and New Jerseyans may patronize Carmel, Sevan, Olympia or Arenie groceries to buy staples such as Victor’s String Cheese, Ohanyan’s Basterma, or Mediterranean Kitchen’s Soujouk – all produced by Diasporan Armenians. But where can Tri-State Armenians go to purchase packaged fine foods from present-day Armenia?
One answer is the NetCost supermarket chain specializing in international food products—particularly from Russia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. With locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, NetCost carries hard-to-find Armenian products such as Noyan fruit compotes and juices; a wide assortment of fruit and vegetable preserves by Apri, Araks, ArtFood, Nomi and Noyan, as well as Brinza, Chanakh, Chechil and Lori Armenian cheese varieties. They also carry Sevan, Masis, Sasoon, Shushan and Lav lavash brands from California.
Founded by Sam Shnayder and his son Eduard, the NetCost markets were established to serve immigrant communities from the former Soviet States. Later, partners Arthur Gavrilov and Alik Niyazov joined, and today the markets are flourishing in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as northern and central New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Compared to American standards, the NetCost environment has an Eastern European flavor. On the social side, shopping there gives one the opportunity to observe interactions among customers that one would not see elsewhere in the U.S., as well as a little rudeness from patrons and staff.
NetCost markets carry practically everything American supermarkets do. Some products cost less than traditional markets charge while others cost the same or more. NetCost also features enormous and tantalizing hot and cold buffet sections; specialty game, poultry and fish, including smoked, cured and pickled varieties; international cheeses and spreads, and a large pickle selection. The store also has a bakery department and a wide array of European and gift chocolates. Some NetCost locations can also carry Kotayk beer, Jermuk mineral water and a variety of Armenian wines if they receive enough requests.
There have been some complaints about food quality control in the meat and cheese sections. Consumers should know that many food products are marked with a manufacturing date (not an expiration date). Those products are often good for 12 to 18 months from the date they were packaged.
A special promotion was launched in December 2019, “Explore the Cuisine and Culture of the Republic of Georgia.” Other promotions have been or will be done for the cuisines of Ukraine and Russia. We encourage NetCost visitors to approach the management to request a similar promotion of Armenian cuisine and to assure them that if this occurs, our NY-NJ-PA communities would be notified of such an initiative.
All in all, these stores afford Armenian-Americans the chance to enjoy the outstanding cuisine of Armenia and support its economy.
Shoppers can discover the NetCost locations at https://www.netcostmarket.com/netcost-market-locations/
Armenian food vendors should take the opportunity to sell their products at NetCost by applying online at https://www.netcostmarket.com/become-a-vendor/