Update: Salem Trader Joe's is now open at 4450 Commercial St SE
In the years that eatsalem.com has been in existence, in the dozens of internet polls that have been on it, there has never been as much agreement on any issue as to whether or not folks in Salem would shop at Trader Joe's. The answer to that recent question, posed before readers of this site, is a resounding "yes." 95% of over 100 people who answered the question said they would shop at the privately owned grocery store that claims on their website that "customers are king."
People in Salem have wanted one of these stores for a long time. It's a topic that comes up in conversation often with people on the street and at cocktail parties.(yes, on occasion, people invite me to their cocktail parties) There's a few TJ's in the Portland metro area, one in Eugene. They've even recently opened one in Bend. So, Salem must be on the list to get one next, right? That's what I asked the checker at a recent visit to the Lake Oswego store. His answer was that Trader Joe's was planning on opening three stores in Oregon this year and that one of them would be in Corvallis. If a bucket of cold ice water poured over my head at the moment that I heard that answer, I wouldn't have noticed. It's impossible to think that a TJ's in Corvallis is a better idea then a TJ's in Salem.
The rumors are out there. These cocktail party conversations usually lead to someone saying that Trader Joe's doesn't like the demographics of Salem. That's BS! 95% of the people who answered the poll on this page said they would shop there. It would be 97%, but three people answered "not sure." And what about the demographics of Corvallis, makes that a more attractive place to open? They have a smaller population. Another rumor that I hear often, is that TJ's wants a nice shiny new building next to the freeway. Well, nobody in Salem lives near the freeway. If they're going to call themselves a "neighborhood grocery store" then they need to be in our neighborhoods. And why bulldoze our open space when we have several vacant buildings with ample parking sitting vacant. I keep pointing to the former Albertson's location on South Commercial as the ideal place for them to set up shop. If you do a google map on that location you can see plenty of homes nearby where people will walk or ride bikes to get their groceries. There may not be a freeway nearby but there are bike lines and safe walking paths to this location. The ugliest rumor and the one that I believe is least likely to be true, is that one of the grocery stores in town has a deal with TJ's to keep them out. That can't possibly be true. Why would people who thrive under capitalism, make and agree to backroom deals that would thwart free market practices in our city? Competition is good and healthy for the consumers here.
So, I'm sure that someone at Trader Joe's headquarters has a google alert set up and will find this post on the web. My plea to you is that you will have success in Salem if you open here. There is no doubt about that. And to open in an existing building means you will help Salem succeed. Many of the residents here are practicing sustainable lifestyles and expect that the places they shop will do the same. A lot of the people here will shop at your store based on the reasonable prices for high quality goods. We are a growing community with plenty of families that will benefit greatly from your services and healthy food options. If a deal is not already in the works to open a Trader Joe's in Salem soon, I ask you, what will make this a more attractive place for you to open shop?
For the folks in Salem that want a Trader Joe's and are willing to make some effort to get them here, click here and complete the location request form from their website. They won't be able to ignore us if they hear our voices loud and clear.