His Hasidic Toy Story

Brooklyn Merchant Wants To Be Ultra-Orthodox Brand Name

Fun and Games: Samuel Lipschitz finds inspiration in Sam Walton’s story.
Kristen Clark
Fun and Games: Samuel Lipschitz finds inspiration in Sam Walton’s story.

By Kristen Clark

Published March 27, 2014, issue of March 28, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

As entrepreneurs, Hasidim have the opportunity to create work environments that operate on their terms. Niederman pointed to B&H, the Hasidic-owned photo and electronics superstore that closes on Friday and Saturday for the Sabbath and employs hundreds of Orthodox associates.

That’s the path Lipschitz hopes to follow.

“The only education I got was from yeshiva,” he said. “So basically this is what’s called street smart, not book smart.”

Lipschitz inherited the entrepreneurial bug from his father, who made a small fortune collecting the de-icing fluid that drained off airport runways, distilling it in vats in Newark, N.J., and selling it back to America’s military for use in Iraq. The operation went bust in the economic upheaval of 2008, when the price of the diesel needed for it suddenly skyrocketed. But Lipschitz says his father’s venture inspired him to go out and take his own risks. “If you don’t go big, you’ll never get big,” he remembered him saying.

Out of a job, and itching to find a way to support his family, he bought a store from his brother-in-law about two years ago. The shop sold rubber bands, Crocs shoes and other odds and ends. But on Lipschitz’s first day behind the counter, a customer wandered in, asking for a sharpener. Lipschitz didn’t have one, but he wrote down the item — beginning a precise running tally of neighborhood demand.

On stroller-jammed Lee Avenue, it seemed that what everyone was demanding was supplies for kids. Lipschitz sprang into action, calling wholesalers and snapping up any item on his list that he could find at a discount: overstocked pencils, Silly Bandz bracelets, boxes of misprinted Arizona Cardinals notebooks and — to the delight of his two small children — toys.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Lipschitz showed off one of his newest items, a giant Lego-style Binyan Blocks synagogue set selling for $59.99. Pictured on the back of the box, tiny Lego men with plastic-fur shtreimel hats and women with coiffed hair sit in separate sections, attending to a miniature Lego rabbi with a purple plastic Torah. A sticker calendar on an interior wall announces the time of sunset.

“When I walk into a showroom where they sell toys, 80% of the items I can’t even bring in,” Lipschitz said, explaining the conspicuous absence of Barbie and Betty Boop from his shop. “Modesty is a very big thing for us; we try to bring in toys that match our values.” The same goes for Bratz dolls; Lipschitz said that he’d just been offered a closeout-price shipment of these and “didn’t even look at them.”

But aside from modesty, Lipschitz says it’s another value that really drives his toy selection. Some of his most popular items are toys you can build and make with, like 3-D foam art stickers, or weavable Loom Bands friendship bracelets.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.