A recent poll rated Trader Joes as the number one grocery store chain in America. This is quite the feat, considering the competition: Whole Foods, Costco, Sam’s Club, Kroger, Wal-Mart, etc. Having only been to a Trader Joes a handful of times, I find this amusing. My wife, on the other hand, would agree with the poll; she is a huge TJ fan! With their diverse offerings, cheap prices, and fun items to try, Trader Joes is the go-to place…when we are near one; the only stores in Michigan are on the east side of the state.
Which leads me to wonder, why hasn’t Grand Rapids gotten the attention from Trader Joes? Obviously, being a metropolitan area with quite a number of Aldi Stores (also owned by the German based Albrecht Family), Trader Joes has to know they would have a customer base, wouldn’t they? A few months back, there was rumor that Trader Joes was scouting the area for a store location…only quickly to have that rumor squashed by their corporate office. However, the stir online went crazy! Again, why can’t Grand Rapids feel the love? We are a fun town, and obviously a destination point (Grandville now has a Cabalas…a destination point for hunting enthusiasts), so where’s the hold up?

Grand Rapids isn’t in the plan, according to Trader Joe’s. No explanation given. And, well, they don’t have to. Thankfully, Grand Rapids doesn’t need Trader Joes. We do very well with the locally harvested crops, small businesses providing new and fun items, and larger stores providing more international items that aren’t produced locally. There are farmers markets all over the city every day, locally based companies like Meijer, Horrocks, and Family Fare, that have large international sections for more diverse items, and home based businesses providing anything from honey to handmade soap.

Would adding another destination shop to the offerings of Grand Rapids be an excellent opportunity for Trader Joes? Absolutely! However, it’s their loss. Grand Rapids may not seem, to certain companies, like a huge opportunity, but to the people of Grand Rapids, we are a community on the fast track. Grand Rapids is growing in leaps and bounds, adding commerce, realty, entertainment, and festivals every day. If a popular company doesn’t see a future in Grand Rapids, that’s okay. There are many other companies who do see opportunity and are benefiting from their addition to the city.

 Blog post by GRAPE Social Media Contributor Ryan Elwell