Staying Afloat Against the Flow
With 10 suitcases and three small daughters in tow, Robby and Tzippi Lasman began their journey from Israel to the United States in hopes of finding a niche for Israeli products in the American market.
They sold everything they had in Israel, quit their jobs, and lived for a while with a distant relative in Teaneck, New Jersey, until they could get on their feet. But if you were to ask them about their decision, they would tell you it was all worth it to begin G.I.T. USA Inc., an extension of Galilee International Trade Company, a distributor and seller of food products in the United States for small businesses in Israel.
Based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Robby and Tzippi sell quality Israeli-made products to stores and consumers in Florida, the Northeast, Chicago, and Boston.
The anti-Israel political climate makes it especially difficult for small, start-up businesses in the Jewish state to function in today’s economy. It is particularly challenging for them to compete against large, well-established companies and conglomerates. G.I.T. USA provides an export market where these small companies have an opportunity to grow.
If you have attended a Friends of Israel prophecy conference in Winona Lake, Indiana, or Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you probably have seen Rob and Tzippi there, manning a booth filled with wonderful delicacies from Israel. They sell everything from gift baskets to juice to olive oil to hummus.
G.I.T. USA’s website, gitfood.com, tells how the Lasmans made the leap of faith to establish the company in America in 2003:
Our story is a true story of entrepreneurship; after losing my job in Israel as a marketing consultant because of the deteriorating economy in Israel, I started to sell health and natural foods to stores in Israel. Soon after starting selling, some Israeli manufacturers that I worked with received invitations to participate in fairs in the US to help the Israeli economy. They offered to me the option to go and represent them in those fairs.
After a few visits to the US, I decided to relocate to the US with my wife and our 3 lovely daughters so that we can sell the products we had directly to the retailers. We had a small budget when we started and no support or financial backing from any entity. It was me and my wife Tzippi who did all the hard work of introducing new products into the very competitive US food markets.
Today they have connections with the biggest retailer for kosher products in the United States: ShopRite. Their Israeli-made candies, honey, jams, Bible breads, olive oils, and other unique items can now be purchased there, as well as at Wegmans, Whole Foods Markets, Zabar’s, and Foodtown. They also market through Web businesses, gift basket companies, and regional distributors.
Though the movement to isolate Israel and boycott Israeli products grows stronger around the world, we can help Robby, Tzippi, and the struggling small businesses in Israel they represent. Here are some suggestions:
- Order their products online at www.gitfood.com or by phone.
- Invite them to an event or fair in your area.
- Sell their products on consignment.
- Use their products for fundraisers.
- Connect them with businesses in your area that could carry their products.
- Purchase their products from local merchants and tell the store manager how much you like the products.