The Shopkeeper Chronicles: Edy's Grocer

The Shopkeeper Chronicles: Edy's Grocer

Dec 4, 2023

Edouard Massih (who goes by Edy) founded Edy’s Grocer, a beautiful and delicious corner grocer in Greenpoint. At Edy's, the shelves are curated with an assortment of eye-catching Lebanese snacks and products. Walking into Edy’s is a feast for the eyes and the stomach, Edy’s has made a name for itself with its catering business and incredible Lebanese food. We chatted with Edy to discuss building a grocery store in Greenpoint! 

You started Edy’s Grocer in 2020 at 25 years old! What was that like?

I wasn't married. I didn't have kids. I just had fewer responsibilities. When you’re young, you’re a bit more fearless. I was also saving money to start a catering business, and while the store opportunity came out of nowhere, the money did not. I had an entire business plan prepared. It's funny because I recently pulled up this business plan and read through it and was like holy shit! I put so much work into it; it was so on point. 

Edy’s is a beautiful store and has a great website. Why is it important to invest in your website? 

We opened during COVID, so an online presence was important. Also, there aren't many Lebanese grocers online, so we were fulfilling a need. When we first opened, we had an online presence but not e-commerce. I felt so many people who wanted to support us were far away, so we started selling gift boxes online. We sell three to four gift boxes per week on our e-commerce site. 

Who are your main vendors? 

I use Sahadi’s and Baroody. These are the two Middle Eastern importers. Baroody's was in New Jersey but relocated to Michigan because they were bought by Lipari, a specialty foods distributor. I also work one-on-one with brands because there are so many small brands! One of the best parts of the job is curating that wall of groceries.

What are you looking for when curating groceries? 

I’m looking for products that I like and customers will buy. I’m looking at the expiration date. Is it going to last six months on my shelves? The price tag is another important thing! 

In what ways can brands help support brick-and-mortar? 

We're all trying to survive out here! I think there's not a “right thing” to do. Shipping is really expensive. Many brands don't put that into the pricing, but it’s also hard to factor shipping into pricing. I do think shipping is more of a US problem. It's challenging to navigate. 

How do you drive foot traffic to your store? 

When we first launched, we had a lot of press. Press was the main driver of foot traffic. Our foot traffic has decreased, but I also think it’s because people's way of life has changed since we opened the grocer. When we first opened, everyone worked from home, and people would come in for breakfast and lunch. Now, people are returning to the office. We see an influx of people on Fridays when they’re working from home, but it’s slowed down during the week. That’s why catering has been so important. Our catering business helps us stay open - 60% to 70% of our business is from catering. It's challenging to keep brick-and-mortar open in the city! What keeps us alive outside of catering is that I’m constantly switching things up! New Yorkers want something fun and exciting. We just did a big renovation and now have indoor seating and a beer and wine license. Now that we’re serving beer and wine, we’re going to start a night concept.

Would you ever expand into a second location? 

So many people have asked me this question! I got an opportunity to open a second location but backed out. Running one brick-and-mortar is hard enough. Running two would be hell. If there were a next venture, it would be finding a manufacturer to make our dips and bring them to stores. Our dips are our biggest seller at the grocer, and that's what people come in and love so much.

What advice would you give to people who want to open a shop? 

I learned this one from Oprah, and I always try to say it to people: Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and not bring you down. Many people want to drag you down and don't want you to succeed. It's harmful to oneself and your business! You need to really go with your gut and let those people go. Build a team that's going to lift you up because without your team lifting you up and caring, you're never going to be able to be successful because you can't do it all on your own!

You can learn more by following Edy's at @edysgrocer