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Subscriber Only Grows Like Crazy

How an 80-year-old family business built a niche for itself online
Jeff Braverman
Jeff BravermanPhotograph by Sergiy Barchuk for Bloomberg Businessweek

Sol Braverman founded Newark Nut in 1929. Seventy years later his grandson Jeff, then a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, hired a friend to build a website for the family nut shop at When the site went live, the business was overwhelmed with orders. “My dad told me, ‘Turn that damn thing off,’ ” Braverman says. Jeff, 33, worked briefly at Blackstone postgraduation, then joined the nut company in 2003. Two years later, the city of Newark bulldozed the shop to make room for a hockey arena, and the Bravermans moved the business online. A new challenge emerged—standing out in a market that has attracted local health food stores, specialty chains, and megaretailers:

“The real competitor for every online business is Amazon. People want free shipping on $20 orders. That’s really tough for us. You can negotiate on the cost side with UPS and FedEx, or maybe you can look at raising your prices to build shipping in. In the end, we decided that we really needed to focus on building brand awareness.”