Meet Yehoshua Berger of Esrogshopper.com
September 12, 2021
A Tailor-Made Arba’ah Minim Experience
When selecting arba’ah minim, everyone has their own preferences. Chazon Ish, Lefkowitz, Teimani, Yanover, pitum, no pitum, size, gidul, shape, color, yichus…everyone is looking for their own personal predilection and chumros.
The thought has passed through many a mind: Wouldn’t it be great if I had access to a mumcheh to help me find the set I’m looking for?
For the past five years, EsrogShopper.com has been the messenger to find truly mehudar lulavim and esrogim that fit customers’ exact specifications and budgets.
With more than a dozen years of experience as an arba’ah minim dealer based in Lakewood, R’ Yehoshua Berger, founder of EsrogShopper.com, has actualized his vision of providing a variety of customizable package options to suit anyone’s personal preferences, with a focus on customer service, expertise, and integrity.
Simply put, EsrogShopper.com is your personal arba’ah minim shopping representative working to ensure that you will receive a beautiful arba’ah minim set exactly to your liking.
We spoke with R’ Yehoshua to hear a bit about how EsrogShopper.com came to be and everything it has to offer the discerning customer.
How did you get the idea to start EsrogShopper.com?
Throughout my years of selling arba’ah minim, my main focus has been on customer service. I found that many customers knew exactly what they wanted and needed some help finding what they were looking for. Others may not have been familiar with all the intricacies of buying a mehudar set and preferred to have the process simplified by having an expert they trusted take care of everything for them.
I enjoyed serving my customers and loved helping them find a set that they loved. At the same time, I saw a need to expand what I was doing for my customers to a larger scale so that I could help more people find their perfect arba’ah minim.
Finding the perfect set takes time and energy; it is often a lengthy and intense process. So many people wish they had more time to spend shopping for arba’ah minim. They don’t want to buy a “closed box” set but can’t spend enough time searching for the set they want. Others don’t have the wherewithal to navigate the system on their own.
I realized that what they all really needed was someone to take the time to do the searching they wished they could do.
What was the next step?
To help all these people, I created an easy-to-use questionnaire about what kind of esrog and lulav they want. Those who are particular and know precisely what they’re looking for can write what “brand” of esrog they want and numerous other details. They can also include special requests about appearance, chumros, or anything else. Once we have this list of specifications, we can take the next step of procuring the perfect esrog for this individual.
Those who are not sure exactly what kind of esrog they want can fill in whatever details they do prefer and then ask us to choose a nice esrog for them.
What type of response did you receive after you introduced this new service?
I opened EsrogShopper.com five years ago mainly for the Lakewood community. After receiving an overwhelming response, I knew that I was onto something big and was filling a real need. This led me to expand and begin shipping to more communities, and we now service the entire continental USA through overnight shipping (to ensure freshness).
Even as we expand, customer service remains our highest priority. Our number-one goal is to provide each of our customers with a set that will bring them simchas Yom Tov.
My brother Yaakov runs our customer service department. In addition to being an expert on esrogim and working with me on all aspects of EsrogShopper.com, he gives his all to personally service every customer. Our customers love dealing with him.
When people make a purchase from EsrogShopper.com, they aren’t just ordering an esrog online. We are here for them whenever they reach out; we genuinely see ourselves as the agents acting on their behalf to find their perfect set.
As part of our focus on customer service, we are constantly trying to raise the bar on our service. To this end, we offered a customer survey last year asking our customers for their feedback and opinions. We received many responses from people expressing how pleased they were with our service and also got some great ideas which we are implementing this year.
There were some customers who wrote that they would like to have the option of purchasing Yanover esrogim, and we will be introducing a Yanover line of esrogim for this coming year.
People expressed how they appreciate being able to get everything related to their set directly from us. (When they order their lulav and esrog, we provide hadassim, aravos, rings, and koishelach.) Some also expressed that they would appreciate having extra rings, so we will be sending one extra ring per set this year. The rings are a little tricky, as you don’t want to make rings too early because they might dry out before Yom Tov. This year we will be shipping them in a sealed package similar to what the haddassim and aravos are packaged in to ensure freshness.
Some people also asked for an earlier delivery date because they plan to travel for Yom Tov, and we acted on that and now offer the option of earlier delivery.
What are the different options in terms of price and hiddur?
We offer three levels of full sets of arba’ah minim, which we call platinum, gold, and silver, for the competitive prices of 280 dollars, 210 dollars, and 155 dollars. We also offer “bar mitzvah sets” for 95 dollars and chinuch sets for 45 dollars. All sets include the esrog, a Deri lulav, hadassim, aravos, koishelach, and rings.
What if someone is unhappy with the set they receive?
We offer a 100-percent-money-back guarantee. While we are extremely confident that each customer will be thrilled with the set we chose for them, we want them to know that if for whatever reason they are unhappy we will refund the full purchase price.
How do you manage to find whatever people ask for?
We have developed very good connections over the years and work with large suppliers of superior-quality arba’ah minim who send us top-of-the-line merchandise. We have access to huge amounts of inventory, which allows us to fill every type of special order. If someone asks for a “gartel” or a “completely yellow esrog with a pitum” or “a large esrog with a lot of bumps” or even “an esrog that will fit perfectly into the esrog box my shver gave me,” we can select exactly the right one. Some customers specify an exact shade or size, and we can find that too. This is what keeps our customers coming back year after year.
Our clientele is very diverse, ranging from kollel yungeleit to balebatim, chassidim to Sephardim. We service some rabbanim of out-of-town communities who don’t have access to top-notch sechorah and are very excited to be able to have their orders shipped to them. We also ship large family orders directly to vacation areas where the extended family is meeting to spend Yom Tov, thus diminishing the stress of traveling by air with arba’ah minim.
One recent customer is a yungerman who had a baby shortly before Sukkos and was devastated not to be able to shop for his own esrog. He was overjoyed when he heard about us and discovered that he could still have his ideal esrog in time for Yom Tov. We’ve had customers add extra sets to their own orders to ship directly to their Partners in Torah, enabling fellow Jews to experience the mitzvah for the first time.
Another customer is a busy rebbi who knows that to get a very high-quality esrog one has to start shopping early, but he doesn’t want to take time off from his avodas hakodesh of harbatzas haTorah. Instead, he relies on us to do it for him. We send him a beautiful set each year.
Did the pandemic have an impact on your business last year?
Yes. The second wave of COVID hit strongly during the arba’ah minim shopping season, and many people were quarantining or staying home as much as they could, both in Lakewood and across the country. Baruch Hashem, we were in a position to help many people and were glad to be able to service them. To accommodate the influx of customers, we upgraded our website for the increase in traffic and increased our inventory. Many people who had always picked out their own esrog were so impressed with our service that they told us they would be using us again this year even though they are no longer in lockdown.
Do customers have an option to show the arba’ah minim to their own rav?
Of course. Every customer can show the set to their rav to get his opinion. If their rav has any issue with the set, it can be returned. We also offer an option to have the set checked by the esteemed rav of K’hal Ohr Yaakov in Raintree, who is well known for his expertise in arba’ah minim. This option allows buyers to confidently purchase their arba’ah minim sight unseen with outstanding results.
Any final thoughts?
We are all about making people happy and bringing people simchas Yom Tov through a truly mehudar set. We love what we do. Nothing makes us happier than hearing from our customers that the set they received was exactly what they’d envisioned!
How does one go about ordering through Esrog Shopper?
Have a wonderful Yom Tov!