A few weeks after announcing her intent to sell her online Judaica store, ModernTribe, Jennie Rivlin Roberts has found a buyer. Amy Kritzer, chef, cookbook author and founder of the food blog What Jew Wanna Eat, is taking the reins and looking to build on Rivlin Roberts’ success.
“I do modern takes on classic Jewish recipes,” Kritzer said, “matzah ball soup, brisket, all those things. I really appreciate that modern aspect, and ModernTribe seemed like a natural fit.”
Kritzer, who lives in Austin, Texas, and studied international business at Emory University, also said the store presents a new spin on Judaica, which is often simply thought of as a facet of antique stores. “I loved all the unique products. They fit my lifestyle: funny T-shirts, cool menorahs and seder plates — products I actually wanted to purchase and use.”
Rivlin Roberts initially sent an email to all the subscribers to the ModernTribe newsletter, informing them that the store was for sale in the hope of appealing to someone familiar with the business.
Kritzer saw the email and contacted her brother Andrew, who has a background in technology and analytics, and the two decided this would be a good project to work on together.
“We contacted Jennie and set up some video calls with her,” Kritzer said. “I know we weren’t the only ones interested, so I was really excited when she decided to go with us.”
Rivlin Roberts said she fielded calls from dozens of potential buyers, but Kritzer was best positioned to advance the ModernTribe brand. “She’s passionate, creative and squarely representative of the core customer base. She’s the perfect fit.”
Serving as president and CEO, respectively, as of Aug. 2, Amy and Andrew know that ModernTribe boasts a loyal following, and they intend to keep the store’s unique feel.
“We want to make sure we offer things our customers are interested in, things that are different from the norm,” Kritzer said. “We want people on their toes, wondering what kinds of crazy products we can come up with next.”
Kritzer said that while all Jewish holidays are big for ModernTribe, Chanukah is the biggest for sales. “I think most retailers know that the holidays are when people are buying the most gifts, so we’re working on some to-be-announced, really unique Chanukah products.”
One of Kritzer’s goals is to grow sales for the rest of the year. She said that while Chanukah and Passover will always be key, she wants to expand in other areas, such as wedding products, and make items that appeal during the summer, when shopping for Judaica isn’t often a priority.
ModernTribe’s products range from classic Judaica, such as necklaces and dreidels, to funny and innovative ideas within the Pop Judaica section. Featured items include a shirt featuring bottles of Manischewitz with the words “Purple Drank” above them and tallit and kippah options for the family pet.
With the acquisition of the business, Kritzer also bought the inventory, meaning that favorite items aren’t going anywhere soon. Rivlin Roberts will work with Kritzer for the next year to ensure a smooth transition.
“Judaica doesn’t have to just be in antique shops,” Kritzer said. “Jewish products can be as diverse as Jewish people. There is definitely an audience and a market for the classics, but there are also people who want rainbow glittery menorahs.”