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.
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 ...