Standing behind the counter in Rodal’s Judaica on Van Horne Avenue, 34-year old David Silberstein is in his element. Proprietor of Montreal’s oldest Judaica retailer, he dispenses advice on bar-mitzvah gift ideas, the latest Jewish children’s book releases, and more.
Yet, his experience in the Judaica business has recently cast him into another role: international shipping consolidator. With most of his goods coming via New York City, Silberstein says he found that he was spending “way too much time, money, and headspace on getting shipments past the border in a timely, cost efficient way.”
With the American dollar rising to record levels, he knew that he had to cut overhead in order to keep his business viable. Realizing that there must be others in a similar predicament, he founded Rodal’s Logistics, which consolidates shipments for a number of Montreal-area retailers who import regularly from New York.
Leasing warehouse space in Brooklyn, Silberstein brings a truckload every week and then drops off the goods at their various destinations.
One of those destinations is Cuisinet, a houseware boutique that specializes in appliances popular in the Jewish community, many of which come from New York.
“Bringing up merchandise was always a problem for small business owners like me,” says Cuisinet owner Moishe Bineth. “I used to bring up a truck once a month, which was good when it worked, but it meant that I needed to warehouse a full month’s supply here in Montreal and it was very difficult to order replacement parts or items that sold better than expected.”
“The idea of pooling together is so simple, that I sometimes wonder why no one else thought of it earlier,” he continues. “Now I know that a truck leaves once a week rain or shine, I get my wares when I need them, and I’ve cut down my warehousing needs to a quarter.”
While Silberstein says he never envisioned himself in the shipping business, he reflects that the experience is essentially no different than selling Judaica. “When I sell someone a menorah or a book, I want him walking out of my store smiling,” he notes, “and now I feel good knowing that I’ve brought smiles to the faces of dozens of small business owners like me.”