Tag Archives: Morton Williams

Avi Kaner Hopes To Kick This Can Down The Road

Avi Kaner is a poster boy for civic involvement.

He’s chaired Westport’s Board of Finance, and served as 2nd selectman. He and his wife Liz are active members of Chabad of Westport, and lead philanthropic efforts in this town and Israel.

Now, Avi Kaner is a poster boy — and cover subject — in a battle against expansion of a New York law.

When Crain’s New York Business ran a long story on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to expand the state’s nickel-deposit law to include plastic and glass bottles containing juice, coffee and tea concoctions, plus sports and energy drinks, they illustrated it in print and online with a photo of a less-than-pleased Kaner — holding plastic bottles.

(Photo/Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business)

This issue has nothing to do with the Westporter’s civic work. His day job is co-owner of Morton Williams. That’s the family-owned chain of supermarkets, primarily in Manhattan, focused on fresh, organic, specialty and international foods.

Crain’s says Kaner “isn’t relishing the thought of folks bringing in a lot more bottles and cans” to his West 57th Street location. Morton Williams recently spent $10 million, turning the ground floor and lower level into retail space.

“We keep this place nice and clean, in fitting with the neighborhood,” Kaner told Crain’s. “The last thing we need is people bringing more of their garbage here.”

Customers can return up to 240 items a day. They are first stored near a street-facing window, then in the basement.

“It’s not an optimal use of space in a store where rent is $200 per square foot and every inch of shelving counts,” Crain’s says. Workers who sort the returnables earn $15 an hour.

Kaner is not anti-environment.

“Anything that can be done to prevent waste and help the planet is a good thing,” he told Crain’s. “But the economics of recycling don’t work for a business like ours.”

To read the full story — including its possible impact on curbside recycling — click here.

(Hat tip: John Karrel)

Avi Kaner Does Bloomberg

Westport knows Avi Kaner as our 2nd selectman.

Yesterday, the rest of America knew him as a grocery store expert.

Kaner was interviewed by Bloomberg TV. The subject was Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and how rival businesses can compete on price.

The owner of Morton Williams — a 15-store New York supermarket chain — could not see the graphics being shown. If he’d been able to, Kaner says, he would have responded specifically to them.

Avi Kaner on TV.

Nonetheless, he did a great job answering questions like how responsive suppliers will be to Kaner compared to Jeff Bezos, and how to avoid a price war when Amazon/Whole Foods doesn’t mind one.

For Kaner’s deep dive into all things avocado, guacamole and banana, click here.

2nd Selectman Can’t Get Turned On

The New York Times just posted an interesting article on a technological phenomenon most of us have recently wondered about: Why the new digital-chip credit cards don’t work.

And the star of the piece is Avi Kaner.

The story begins:

Avi Kaner, a co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain in New York, has spent about $700,000 to update the payment terminals at his stores.

Trouble is, he cannot turn them on.

The new terminals can accept credit and debit cards with embedded digital chips, a security feature meant to reduce the number of fraudulent purchases.

But before the payment systems can work, they must be certified, a process that Mr. Kaner and many retailers around the country are waiting to happen. In the case of Morton Williams, the holdup has lasted several months.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

Kaner, of course, is not only an owner of the 15-store, 70-year old grocery retail chain.

He’s also Westport’s 2nd selectman.

When he’s not worrying about produce or credit cards, Kaner helps our town run smoothly.

Much more smoothly, in fact, than that digital-chip credit-card rollout.

(For the full New York Times story, click here.)