published Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Local officials court Trader Joe's


by Dan Whisenhunt

Two local elected officials are working hard to woo Trader Joe's to open a store in Chattanooga, but so far the company has no plans to open a second Tennessee location.

The grocery store, which sells its own specialty brands and is famous for its Two Buck Chuck wines and Hawaiian shirts, would be the perfect anchor store for the Brainerd Village shopping center, Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd said. The area near Hamilton Place is another possibility, he said.

Boyd said he's been working with Chattanooga City Councilwoman Carol Berz on the project.

"Trader Joe's is a great mid-size grocery store," Boyd said. "They're between a Publix and a Whole Foods. They're real community-oriented, have great product lines, they're very green conscious and their stores generally just attract; they're almost like a destination store."

Berz said the response from the company "has been varied."

"They're looking at the demographics, I would imagine," she said.

But at least the company has "got Chattanooga on the radar," Boyd said.

Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for the California-based chain, said the company has more than 350 stores in 29 states. She said the company has a two-year plan for expansion that does not include Chattanooga.

There are several locations in Georgia and one in Tennessee.

"We don't disclose what goes into those decision-making processes," she said.

Rob Foss, the Tennessee representative for real estate site selection for Trader Joe's, said the company has visited Chattanooga, but he would not divulge details of negotiations.

Speaking more generally about the company, Foss said Trader Joe's has a 13,000 square-foot space requirement and is designed to be more nimble than traditional grocery chains in terms of location. He said the company typically looks to land near a population of "well-educated" people.

"There's got to be enough of them to support one of their stores," he said.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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Oz said...

Trader Joe's will not open another store in Tennessee until it is legal to sell wine in grocery stores. It is a large part of their business.

I love Trader Joe's and I make the drive to Atlanta every 4 to 6 weeks to load up on groceries and wine. The Tennessee liquor stores still don't get my business, and the state loses my tax dollars. I would like to keep my tax dollars in Tennessee but I have to take them to Georgia.

Catoosa County should court Trader Joe's and they could build a store next to Costco.

Maybe someday the Tennessee legislature will wake up?

December 1, 2010 at 7:10 a.m.
badkarma said...

I also visit one of the many Atlanta-area Trader Joe's on a regular basis (I think there are SIX to choose from). I'd heard a while back that they wouldn't come here because they can't sell wine, which is a big part of their business. It's ridiculous that it can't be sold in groceries here. Do people actually believe it reduces drunk driving or alcoholism? My favorite line from this article was the one about looking for a population of "well educated" people. Hah! Barking up the wrong tree there, TJ's! They'll never come here if that's the case.

December 1, 2010 at 8:06 a.m.
mchunter said...

I drive down to Marrietta to go to Trader Joe's and La Madeleine's cafe & bakery. It's not that I don't enjoy a good road trip, but Chattanooga is a perfect location for a Trader Joe's! I don't see why they couldn't set up like Greenlife has done with a "separate" wine shop. I would be glad to give TN my business at a Trader Joe's, but my guess is that Fort O will get it first - the same way they got the Costco.

December 1, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.
fftspam said...

Unfortunately we have hypocrites like social butterfly and partier State Senator Bowtie Watson who vote against wine in grocery stores because 'we need to save the children.' Whatever. The reality is that Bowtie Watson votes against wine in grocery stores because of the powerful mom and pop liquor $$tore lobby. Wine would cost half that it does if Bowtie Watson would be a REAL republican and vote for a free market.

December 1, 2010 at 12:46 p.m.
missjames said...

Just the idea that Chattanooga's name was on the table gives me hope that maybe someday it will happen. Until that time, I will follow the rest of the crowd to Atlanta area for my Trader Joe shopping.

December 1, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

The state of Tennessee needs to get with the times and allow wine to be sold in liquor stores. Unfortunately, the independent wine and liquor store sellers are paying off the state legislature not to reform these alcohol laws. Until then, the smart people that live near state lines will purchase the alcohol in other states (no wonder Costco build on the Georgia side of the line). Oh by the way, you backward state politicians, state alcohol tax revenue would go up (i.e. more money in the coffers) if you allowed wine to be sold in grocery stores. This state is pathetic.

December 1, 2010 at 4:36 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Username: fftspam | On: December 1, 2010 at 12:46 p.m. "State Senator Bowtie Watson who vote against wine in grocery stores because 'we need to save the children' "

fftspam, Are you sure about that? If so, I think we need to give Senator Watson a call.

Why the Bowtie label?

December 1, 2010 at 4:47 p.m.
Beamis said...

Trader Joe's will definitely go to the Georgia side of metro Chattanooga if they finally decide to locate in this area. Wine is a staple of their merchandise line-up and the idiots who kow-tow to the Mom & Pop liquor dealers in TN will not allow this popular chain to operate in their usual mode. The Nashville Trader Joe's is nice but without the wine selection it seems to be only a fraction of what it is elsewhere.

Georgia will take this business away from Tennessee and I'll be glad to drive down and give you my business. The Costco wine selection is superb and Catoosa County is the benficiary.

Anyone in Nashville listening?

December 1, 2010 at 5:23 p.m.
princehal said...

"He said the company typically looks to land near a population of "well-educated" people."

PISH-A. I'll take my college education to another store, thank you very much. What a snotty bit of information to share with the public.

I think a better word could have been used; affluent, perhaps.

December 1, 2010 at 5:24 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Must say I too love Trader Joe’s. They have a great wine selection that is reasonably priced. I always stop by their store whenever I travel to Atlanta, which is usually every three or four weeks. Although I would love to see them open up a store in the Chattanooga and/or North Georgia area, I sort of doubt they will. The population in this region is small comparatively speaking, and most of their stores have been in cities with much larger populations.

December 1, 2010 at 7:08 p.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

you can be certain that trader joes has chattanooga, tn at the very bottom of its list. for good reason.

December 1, 2010 at 9:08 p.m.
Oz said...

Check out this blog and contact your representative.

http://redwhiteandfoodblog.com/

December 1, 2010 at 9:48 p.m.
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