Dear Trader Joe’s,
The people of Wilkes-Barre hunger for a small-scale, downtown market — the very sort of establishment you operate with great success in New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania, State College and an ever-growing number of U.S. cities. So as you survey sites in which to open new markets in 2014 and beyond, we humbly ask this: Don’t whisk over the Wilkes-Barre data without doing some on-the-ground reconnaissance.
Yeah, yeah, we know Sunbelt states such Colorado and Texas, with their towering mountains and towering egos, respectively, offer the more attractive population trends. And plucky folks in places like Memphis are trying to woo you with social media campaigns.
But have any of them delivered an outright invitation by way of a daily newspaper editorial?
Didn’t think so. (In your face, Memphis Facebook campaign.)
To be clear, dear geniuses at Trader Joe’s headquarters, we are not above begging. Or resorting to transparent flattery. But let’s start with a straightforward appeal to your adventurous nature and unorthodox business sense — qualities upon which you have built your coveted brand.
Take a chance on Wilkes-Barre, a place that’s seen bottom and begun to bounce back.
Our shoppers not only need noodles and peanut butter, they need them scanned and bagged with a sense of “warmth, friendliness and fun,” as encapsulated in your company motto. Cashiers in outrageous Hawaiian shirts? Yep, we could use that burst of color and spirit here, too.
As fate would have it, Wilkes-Barre can, as of this month, show you an empty corner lot on South Main Street that might suit your square-footage needs. It’s situated between two private colleges with a few thousand students (potential patrons), across the street from a well-visited cinema/retail complex (potential patrons with money), in the same neighborhood as a YMCA (potential health-conscious patrons seeking couscous).
Did we mention the chamber of commerce’s top dogs and the new owner of that nearby retail space would be verrrry interested in attending the ribbon-cutting for a food market? Anecdotal evidence and prior surveys of downtown office workers, residents and others suggest people want a place near the city’s hub to buy fresh produce, zesty snacks and other foodstuffs — beyond what’s available at, say, the typical convenience store.
The city’s seasonal farmers market on Public Square is well-attended, with lots of public interest in expanding it to a year-round event. And Trader Joe’s, as those of you at TJ’s HQ already know, has often been compared to an indoor farmers market. (Hint-hint.)
So, next time you’re out collecting those cage-free eggs, stop by our fair city and have a look. If Wilkes-Barre doesn’t mesh with your expansion strategy, well, thanks for your time, and maybe another grocer will dare try what you won’t. (For that reason, we’ve cc’d some others below.)
But know this, Trader Joe’s: We’re wild about your wild rice, your narrow aisles and silly newsletters, and if you spurn our Northeastern Pennsylvania home without so much as a second glance, well, we’ll long be drowning our sorrow in bottles of “Two-Buck Chuck” — its bargain-priced, grapey goodness marred only by the salt from our tears.
A City Unsatiated
Whole Foods Market