Friday, December 01, 2006

If you build it, they will come

My letter to Trader Joe's:
Trader Joe’s
117 Kendrick Street, Suite 700
Needham, MA 02494

October 26, 2005

Greetings from North Carolina! I just moved here two weeks ago from Los Angeles, and I’m still settling in. I have to admit one thing that I miss most from L.A. is Trader Joe’s. I’ve been shopping there for years, and I wish there was one out here. At my last trip to my local Trader Joe’s, the friendly checker suggested I write in and let you know that I’d like you to open a store here in my new city. She said you are constantly expanding, and I saw on your website that you’ve recently opened several stores here in the east. So let me tell you why the Raleigh, NC area would be a good choice for your next expansion site.

First, Raleigh is part of a larger metropolis known as the Triangle, which includes Durham and Chapel Hill. You put in one store, and people will come from all around. Second, another nearby city that is growing by leaps and bounds is Cary--which very well may be the ideal site for your store because the demographics indicate there is a large pool of potential Trader Joe’s customers. Education and income levels are high, and everyone here is from somewhere else...with many from California and other areas where Trader Joe’s already exists, so they are probably familiar with your stores and would jump at the chance to shop there again. Chapel Hill would be another good location for a store--with that population being a little more liberal, I predict the vegetarian and organic lines would be popular. Third, both in Cary and in the surrounding areas, there is a vast and growing contingency of suburban families as well as single professionals who would be drawn to the value, variety, and convenience of your unique products. Lastly, while I personally don’t drink wine, it seems everyone else here does, so that aspect of the store would also do well.

If you are considering opening a store in the Triangle area any time soon, I would really love to hear about it. And let me suggest that it be a large store, or at least in a location where expansion is possible, because I predict the place will be packed. If your current plans do not include the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or Cary areas, I implore you to reconsider, because I firmly believe a store here would do a booming business and the customer base would be able to support several more stores in the future. I, for one, would be an instantaneously loyal customer, thrilled to help promote you through the best advertising around, word of mouth.

Best regards,

Melissa Mertz
If only I had actually mailed that letter, I could be shouting "I told you so!" from the mountaintops. Trader Joe's opened in Cary on Monday, and the only way to describe the response is "overwhelming." As planned, I was there the morning it opened. Normal hours are 9-9, so I got there at 8:45, but people were already exiting with bags of delicious goods.

Here are a few shots of the new, very large store:

It was somewhat surreal to be walking up and down the aisles, because TJ's is so closely associated with California in my mind, that I had to keep reminding myself I was in Cary. They didn't carry a few of my favorites, but that could be due to a) the fact that it's their first store in NC and until they gauge what sells and what doesn't, they're just taking guesses at what the people here will want; or b) those items are no longer available (which can sometimes happen at TJ's). When I checked out the cashier said they are very interested in feedback and requests, so we'll see how that pans out.

After I loaded up my cart with abundant TJ goodness,

I went to work and shared my bounty. Everyone was gracious enough to humor my slightly fantatical enthusiasm. And no one turned down the offer of a free lunch. And today, vindication. My coworker Josh said he and his wife went to TJ's last night, and they loved it! He described it as "Fresh Market style products, cheaper than Harris Teeter." You betcha! They loaded up on lots of goodies. Josh said that outside the store on their little dry-erase board TJ staff had written the following:
Okay, we get it. You like us. So we're hiring. And for those of you who asked the first day if we were hiring, and we said no, we're sorry.
Dude, what did I tell you? Within a year they will have at least one additional location here in the Triangle. I would suggest North Raleigh. Are you listening, location scouts??


  1. Yippee for the success of T.J.'s !! I am so happy for you that you have something that you loved in CA. Trader Joe's missed you.. .they are glad you are back. : )

  2. No no no no no, you have to stop it! I'm DYING here!

    ;-) Enjoy TJs!