A supermarket war was launched in Rehov Beit Hadfus in Givat Shaul at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, as the Rami Levy chain opened a new branch that will compete with the Supersol Deal a few hundred meters away on Rehov Kanfei Nesharim. Although Levy decided not to advertise the launch, over 100 people arrived for the grand opening, when businessman and city council member Levy opened the branch with free soft drinks, cookies, humous and a large braided halla for all to enjoy. They were joined later that day by hundreds of shoppers pushing sparkling new shopping carts. At the same time, Supersol Deal was strikingly empty, with plenty of vacant parking places underground and very short queues. Supermarket staffers, who had been expecting such a change when they learned of Levy coming to the neighborhood, looked glum but tried not to discuss the sudden downturn in business. From its opening in 1995 until four years ago, Supersol Deal - the latest in a series of names used by Supersol for its supermarket at that location - boasted low prices. But when the competing Hatzi Hinam discount supermarket branch about 40 meters east of it on Rehov Kanfei Nesharim closed, Supersol Deal became a near-monopoly in the area, which has seen the rise of many office buildings and commercial development. The change saw a steady rise in prices at Supersol Deal, angering many of its longtime customers. Many of these veterans were seen pushing shopping carts at the Rami Levy opening. Levy, who started his business with a small shop in Mahaneh Yehuda market years ago, has two supermarkets in Talpiot and more in Mevaseret Zion, Modi'in, Haifa and other parts of the country. Recently, shoppers who asked Supersol Deal managers whether they were concerned about the "neighborhood intruder" were told that management was sending personnel on a regular basis to look through Levy's windows and "spy." The managers promised Supersol Deal customers that "whatever Rami Levy charges, we will charge less." They did not, however, explain why Supersol Deal had not offered low prices when it was the sole supermarket on Rehov Kanfei Nesharim. In the past week, fruit and vegetable prices dropped, with tomatoes going from NIS 9 a kilo to NIS 5 and squash from NIS 19.99 to NIS 6. There was even an offer of NIS 1.40 per kilo for tomatoes (up to three kilos per customer who spend NIS 100 at the store). The new Rami Levy has only outdoor parking (and fewer spots than at Supersol Deal) and somewhat less floor space, but its fruits and vegetables were clean (some even wrapped individually in cellophane), its ceramic tile floor sparkled, music played in the background and staffers offered to bag purchases without even being asked. Rami Levy staff could not say if or when home deliveries would become available, but did say that "club membership" with a 1.5 percent discount on all purchases would soon be offered. It will be interesting to see where the price war and welcome competition will lead.

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