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Passover Feature Dot-com Learns from First Passover, As Harried British Shoppers Eye Site

April 15, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

For many, the last few days before Passover are not synonymous with relaxation.

By the time the festival finally comes around, the annual scramble for kosher-for-Passover food and products leaves many an exhausted shopper. But in Britain, at least, two entrepreneurial students have vowed to make life a little easier by introducing a one-stop online Passover service.

Named, the service offers rabbinically certified kosher products and promises the weary shopper “Passover — the easy way.”

The site, developed and run by a pair of 20-year-old business students, Mordechai Calvert and Daniel Wosner, offers a full range of kosher products delivered to any address in Britain. “People in outlying communities have great difficulty obtaining their Passover food,” notes Calvert, “and there is also a market for those who don’t like the trouble of shops.”

The two students, who developed the idea after they returned from yeshiva in Israel last year, are entering a lucrative market for Passover goods here; however, the founders say was established for reasons other than financial gain.

“The aim was to ensure no one has an excuse for not making Passover,” Wosner says.

In fact, the online service, which closed its cyber-doors to new orders April 13, has been something of a grueling business experience for the two Londoners.

Adds Calvert: “I think it’s one thing talking about doing something like this, but it’s quite another actually getting up and achieving it.”

But after spending nearly a year developing the concept — and many a late night finding suppliers and delivery systems between their studies — Calvert and Wosner are content that their commitment and hard work on the Web site has come to fruition.

For Jewish families in places as isolated as the Isle of Mann, where there are very few Jews, the opportunity for a kosher Passover delivered to their door makes a unique service in Britain. Even in those areas where there are sizeable communities, such as Manchester, the dot-com shop has won orders — thanks, say the pair, to the large selection of food and Judaica products that often outstrips what is available in the offline kosher world.

Judging by the reaction of one bedraggled shopper at one of North London’s foremost, and somewhat manic, kosher- for-Passover supermarkets, the venture is one to be applauded. “I wish I had known about it; this place is killing me,” says Sharon Shuman, a mother of three who acknowledges always leaving her Passover shopping to the last minute, despite the horrendous lines and parking mayhem.

Calvert knows he and his business partner cannot yet rely on the Jewish community, giving up the Passover rush and logging on for their supplies. “There are plenty of people who are still not into Internet shopping and like to see what they are buying for real and not on a screen.”

The Web site’s novelty and limited exposure have meant market share has been limited — a spokesman for the kosher division of the London Beit Din, or Jewish religious court, said he had not heard of the service.

Though the owners expect to take a loss this year, with Britain’s e-retail industry already 6 percent of the total retail market, and growing three times faster than in the United States, the omens for next Passover are good as long as they can deliver the right products and on time.

For the e-kosher entrepreneurs, the hope must be: Next year in profitability.

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