The Benson family offers many kosher products at its West
Bloomfield bulk-food and gourmet stores.
SUZANNE CHESSLER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
merican Bulk Food and American Gourmet
"For customers, the advantage to bulk — and
are only a few doors away from each other it's almost the antithesis of what an individual
at the West Bloomfield Plaza, but their prod- might think — is not the buying in quantity," Mr.
uct lines often seem worlds apart.
Owned by Marty Benson, his wife Sandy, and
"It's the buying in small amounts that brings the
son Mitchell, the stores cater to different food in- value. Many customers enjoy us when they're cook-
ing because they're able to buy an ounce of this or
American Bulk Food generally offers products an ounce of that.
that people use daily in preparing meals or snacks,
"Someone who has $10 to spend on food can buy
while American Gourmet tends to specialize in del- more items with that $10 in a bulk-food store.
"For example, a woman who cooks a lot needs
only a little bit of each spice and will find that
spices don't have a very long shelf life. She's
able to buy just what she needs, and then the
next time she comes in she's able to buy fresh
'The mission of our bulk stores is being able
to maintain a large variety of items and give
people more options on the quantity so they
can maintain a certain variety."
To keep adding to his bulk food stores' as-
sortment, Mr. Benson attends
Left, Marty and about one trade show each
month, finding unusual edibles
like chocolate pistachios and
For inventory purposes, each
off a gift basket. BULKSTERS page 76 .
icacies that can be bought as individual
items or put together in gift baskets.
What the two stores have in common,
however, is their large number of kosher
products, including everything prepared
on the premises.
"Our customers pick our products,"
said Mr. Benson, who gave up a phar-
macy career 10 years ago to enter the
food business. 'They tell us what to han-
dle, what they're into and what they
In the West Bloomfield bulk-food fa-
cility, there are more than 1,000 items,
such as spices, candies, cereals and
freshly-roasted coffees available in
amounts decided by individual buyers,
supplemented by a line of Russian cui-
sine and baked goods made on the spot.
In the gourmet shop are upscale can-
dies, jams, cookies, nuts and wines,
many imported from Israel.
The family also works out of two oth-
er bulk-food locations — one in Dear-
born, their first outlet, and another in
Southgate. Both carry items to satisfy
neighborhood customers with Italian
and Middle Eastern backgrounds.
Cheeses, requested spices and products
made with olives have priority.
All told, some 50 employees are need-
ed to take care of sales, food prepara-
tion -and bookkeeping at the four stores,
especially to accommodate bulk-food
shoppers on a seven-day-per-week ba-
PHOTOS BY GLENN TRI