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Trading Up

by on September 18, 2012

Western New Yorkers may soon get to experience the feeling that they’d starve without Trader Joe’s. Sure, residents can acquire provisions now, but they’ll soon wonder how they fed themselves before the iconoclastic supermarket set up an outpost in town. The campy signage means affordable deliciousness.

Having a Trader Joe’s at which to shop could be one of the keys to tempting Buffalo’s expatriates who presently live near a location into moving back. And everyone already in the area can begin anticipating looking forward to the day’s free sample. Getting on the company’s case is the best way to let them know that there are latent customers just waiting to indulge in offbeat wares:

The Kenmore Village Improvement Society (KVIS) has announced that the Trader Joe’s for Western New York campaign was successful, as Trader Joe’s plans to open a store in WNY during the 4th quarter of 2013.

The KVIS made efforts to bring the popular grocery store, known for its unique food and beverage items, to the area with a campaign featuring a mascot called “Kenmore Joe”, letter writing, and social media initiatives.

“We’re thrilled to have played a role in attracting Trader Joe’s to the area,” said Melissa Foster.

Credit Foster for zealously yet politely getting on the case until Joe noticed Buffalo would be a good place to trade. One of the best village societies around shows why it’s better to attract commerce yourself than wait for the political class to haggle:

Melissa Foster and her group, Kenmore Village Improvement Society, have been leading the charge to bring a Trader Joe’s to Kenmore. The California-based grocery chain has become a destination for bargain hunters, with their unique store brands and low prices.

“If you have a Trader Joe’s in your community, you are this kind of hip, ‘with it’ community that people want to go to,” Foster said. “They ring a bell when they get an order. They wear their Hawaiian shirts. Their ads are written in colored chalk on chalkboards. So it is a really festive and fun environment.”

Yes, it’s a de facto luau at the checkout. But that means Erie County would conversely have been unhip and not “with it” until now. So why hasn’t TJ’s been around yet?

A top expert in the food retailing industry confirmed, Trader Joe’s seems ready to make a move and western New York is a prime target.

Burt Flickinger, III of the Strategic Resource Group said, “The most under developed area of the Northeast that Trader Joe’s has not tapped into is the western New York and Buffalo market.”

Blame the tardy introduction on all the economic stimulating by various governmental levels that hasn’t quite paid off yet, although perhaps we should be patient and wait for a few more decades. Regardless, getting here late beats never arriving.

Then, Buffalonians can join Trader Joe’s cult. The purveyor of victuals creates dedicated fans in the IKEA or White Castle mold who find the seller’s culture irresistible. A company with a reputation for making a fine product available in a fun environment is conducive to an area where residents pledge loyalty to deliciously quirky taco peddlers, slingers of irresistible coffee, and historically frustrating football franchises. Area residents will stick with anything worthwhile, which is good news for the sort of chain that has a cookbook dedicated to recipes that can be made solely from ingredients purchased at it. 

For a place that makes groceries affordable enough for customers that they have ample money left over for the ale section, they offer quite the range of interesting products. After all, most discounters don’t feature an Indian food section, a cookie butter that creates happiness, or a bacon cheddar ranch dip for which you’d commit a felony. Even their silly organic products pass the taste test, so one doesn’t have to feel like a filthy hippie while enjoying salsa that makes one wonder why one wasted so much previous time dipping tortillas in glorified ketchup.

On top of that, area residents may enjoy receiving actual help from a character-laden crew. The store’s more ardent patrons note that workers are honest about products and polite with a sharp yet accessibly affable grin. Shopping there is fun to the point where, say, adherents who look forward to shopping there offer unsolicited endorsements in blogs.

The only dissenters are managers at established greengrocers, and the mid-level food kingpins could use a little more stress. Even fans of the area’s Big Two should welcome the option to pick up fruit elsewhere.

Another potential retailer can’t be bad, as it will keep competitors honest and their prices reasonable. Additionally, Wegmans fans can shop somewhere that doesn’t use a declining, raging misogynist as a spokesman. Western New York should welcome the chance to get its bell rung.

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