Friday, January 25, 2008

Trader Joe's Comes to Richmond (for real this time?)

Trader Joe's is coming to Richmond. Okay, actually, it's Henrico County. Well, okay, it's sort of just a rumor. But, I trust that the rest of you interweb-sleuths will figure it out for sure. A coworker showed me this aerial map of the hideous overdevelopment plans for Short Pump and there's Trader Joes' nestled in with the new PetCo across from Best Buy and Target (thanks West Broad Village message board).

Do you believe it? Trader Joe's takes the guess work outta my bargain hunting hobby, but if I can get Charles Shaw Shiraz for $3.29, who's complaining? Anyhow, to answer my own question, no I don't believe it. I had heard that Trader Joe's tried to come to Richmond a few years back, but they were blocked by the Ukrops family, who believed that only heathens and blasphemers paid less than $6.50 for fancy cheese, much less buying groceries on the lord's day. Sorry, I just threw-up in my mouth a little bit.

The story goes that Trader Joe's sought out an ideal spot at Libbie and Grove, but just as the paperwork was going through, Ukrops swooped in and planted something there called "Joe's Market," a pale impersonation to say the least (with a name to add insult to injury). One can only guess what sort of backroom shenanigans and feeble flexing (that is the hallmark of our local politics) reinforced this move and has persuaded Trader Joe's from attempting to expand into Richmond until now. If that story is true, I wonder what's changed of late.

I still think the possibility of Trader Joe's in Short Pump is good news, even though I'll have to wade deep into the big-box wonderland in order to splurge on 3-4 items at Whole Foods and then fill my trunk full of Trader Joe's goodies. Sure, it would make a much better anchor store at a struggling strip mall (or Willow Lawn type installation), but it's closer than Newport News or Vienna. Do me a favor, dear readers, and let me know if there is any merit to this "news" (or break it to me gently if this is old news). Also, my previous posts about healthy living are in need of attention (I mean, you're perfect the way you are, but...).

update: it looks like someone else mentioned "unconfirmed whispers" of TJ's in RVA earlier this month.


  1. I saw another reference to this a few days ago (and I think that the comment is from a credible source). That the word seems to be getting around lends it even more credence.

  2. Well, the news is getting better. Although the Trader Joe's website doesn't mention a new store in Richmond, I have still found ways to whet my appetite:

    This site lets you review TJ products and find out which products are most popular.

  3. This is simply awesome. My family has missed TJ's since we left CA. If you are wrong, I'll have you beaten about the head and shoulders with a wet noodle.

  4. If I am wrong, I'll have that wet noodle beating with sesame dressing. Cross your fingers.

  5. The rumors have been confirmed by every TJ employee I have talked to when I mention that I'm from Richmond.

  6. I guess the employees would know, huh? Score one for face to face information gathering. Also in the interest of reality based information (as opposed to virtual detective work), I just stopped by the development where the alleged TJ's will be installed. No big sign bragging about the stores to come (silly). And there were no permits posted in the windows with fine print that blah blah obtained such and such zoning permissions and is subsidiary of Trader Joe's holding company, etc. No, I pictured these things in my mind, but they did not materialize. My wife did, however, get half of her xmas shopping done at a crazy West Elm clearance event (most of the stuff was $0.97). No substitute for TJ's though.

  7. Huh. I thought it was Whole Foods that was coming here..

    at least Trader Joes is cheaper..

  8. Glad to see the RTD agrees with the essense of this story. Whole foods is going to open a "block" east on the same side of Broad. Do they have blocks in Short Pump? What's the unit of measure out there? Strip malls? Whole Foods will be one strip mall before the alleged Trader Joe's as you get off 64 and take the Short Pump exit.

  9. no2pencil9:27 AM

    It's nice to see Ukrop's "Godfather" style of competition elimation can only go so far. I've heard many stories of their hardball business tactics they've resorted to in order to keep out competion in the Richmond market. It's a much different side to their very public face.

  10. Being I live on Southside Richmond, I am so jealous of a Trader Joe's coming to Short Pump. As much as I want to shop there, with gas being the way it is, it's not worth me traveling that far to get grocery goodies.

    Sigh! I can't afford to live in the West End. I will have to stick with Ukrops because the nearest Kroger is too far and I hate FOOD LION!

  11. Anonymous3:18 PM

    I just read the blurb about TJ's Richmond store in the RTD. Your insider information gives me even more hope that they will be here! I love their stores!!!!
    (I usually shop at TJ's when I am travelling in Northern Virginia and have been told by their cashiers that they are not in Richmond yet because of the Ukrops family. Interesting to see that commented on here too!) Keep us posted!

  12. Lynn, you're right to be miffed that about the location of the Trader Joe's. Maybe there's a political element involved here as well. Does the Ukrops family chase the competition to the county line a la Boss Hog and Roscoe P. Coltrane on the Dukes of Hazard? Funny that their reputation has spread to NoVa and Tidewater.

    Seriuosly, why should so many magnet stores be clustered in one spot so far outside of the city? That is NOT smart growth. Nonetheless, Lynn, I think you won't be able to resist the attraction of a TJ's in Greater RVA. If they build it, you will go and so will I. And we'll sit in bumper to bumbper traffic together.

  13. I admit I am in the dark about Ukrops business practices, but business naturally doesn't seem to be a pleasant thing behind the scenes.

    It is frustrating that much of the money in the area is clustered in the West End. There is development on Hull Street. And finally, Chesterfield is killing Cloverleaf Mall.

    I travel only to the West End for two things (1) friends off Patterson Avenue and (2) Sushi Go Round near Innsbrook. I will travel for my Sushi (grin).

    The one thing that I do find sad for Henrico and correct me if I am wrong, but does Hazelett (sp?) care about the environment, resources, etc? I see no real plans for greenspace. It's all about a pavement jungle. You need parks, etc. You can't just pave everything over for the almighty dollar. And when there are water issues, why have the gaul to allow that megafountain off Gaskins Road near Derbyshire to operate?

    I don't go to Short Pump because I don't have money to shop at Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel, etc. I have a rather modest income. Hopefully this will improve once I finish my schooling.

    Sorry, ranting just a wee bit. :) p.s. hope you don't mind I linked you in a list on my blog.

    - Lynn

  14. Jonah8:12 AM

    RVA Foodie -- Thanks so much for this link. I love the photo showing all the overdevelopment there. And the "proof" of the photo with the logos is good enough for me. Also, you have the balls to stand up and tell it like it is about the Ukrops, which the T-D doesn't have.
    You definately gave your article more time and research than they did! And played it more prominently. I guess the T-D doesn't have a clue how big TJ's will be to Richmond. And how much it will change the retail scene. I hate to say it but Ellwoods is in trouble.

    By the way, my hubby, John M. Holland, has done several paintings of "The Last Farm" in Short Pump -- the area we are all talking about.
    See July 25th. The painting is for sale at Lost Art this weekend.

  15. Well, I just wanna fess up. Last night, while running a slight fever, I spied a Near West End News blog entry at RVA News that recapped the Times Dispatch blurb about Trader Joe's. So, what did I do? I got a little whiney about how I broke the story first and my entry is superior, and then I did the Church Lady dance all over the comments section. Thanks Jonah, for not holding my tantrum against me. Moving right along.

    The last two comments speak for themselves, but they give me an idea for another blog entry.

  16. I'm a little concerned that all these great new places seem to be opening up on top of each other in Short Pump. The traffic out there is bad now and I can only imagine what it will be with another million or sq feet of new retail. Fresh Market's saving grace may be people like me who live and work in town and won't always want to drive into the madness of the coming gridlock. I know in December I didn't once drive out to Short Pump for this very reason.

  17. AKAnVA12:41 PM

    I just found out about TJs coming to Richmond!

    I am too excited and will be one of the first there to welcome them.

    I would drive to NO VA, MD or Newport News to enjoy the specialities.

    I am a UKROPS FAN, but I am very disappointed to find out how they were blocking them from coming!

    I work near Short Pump, so TJS, HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can U tell I am Excited?!!!!

  18. yay!! i can't believe we're finally getting some real grocery stores like tj's and whole foods. i moved here from raleigh and couldn't believe that a city this large didn't have a whole foods. i don't care if they're both in the west end and it'll take me 25 minutes to get there! i'll go. i'm just happy we now will have some choices. and might i add (no offense to anyone who works at elwood thompson), but i think that place is a total ripoff. had i not been looking at the register the other day, i would have paid $4.99 for a bulb of fennel. outrageous! i'm all for the little man, but that's ridiculous.

  19. The $4.99 fennel bulb at ETs is a good illustration. Fennel/anise is $2.49-2.99 at other supermarkets and even that is too much. But if a products is generally accepted to be expensive, then Ellwoods is going to jack the price to the limit. And of course, that's their whole store wall -to-wall: overpried niche products.

    My wife was complaining of x,y, and z symptoms. Our pregnancy books suggested oregano oil. They had one bottle of it at ETs: 0.45 oz for $33 !!!!! That place just ruins my day every time.


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