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Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Take Stock Before Opening Stores

Residents want to see one of the grocery chains open in East Windsor, but each company has its reasons for when and where they open.

There are more than a few vacant storefronts in East Windsor, including the empty location where Super Fresh used to be. Last week, more than a few residents said that they would be interested in having a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods  fill the void.

But it’s not always that simple. Each company has it’s own standards and requirements that have to be met before they expand into an area, and even then, meeting those standards doesn’t necessarily mean the companies will come.

“It’s all laid out on the web,” Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra said in an interview last year. “People always think it’s financially driven, they think it’s about income. But one thing we do look at is the number of college educated people in an area.”

Sinatra said that shoppers with college degrees are often more interested in the type of food they’re putting into their body, creating a demand for natural or organic foods.

Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s invite people to visit their websites and suggest areas for new stores. According to the Whole Food’s site, some requirements include: having 200,000 or more people within a 20-minute drive time; a location that’s between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet; that there be a large number of college-educated residents; ample parking for the store’s exclusive use; a stand alone location preferably; easy access from roadways, lighted intersection; excellent visibility directly off the street; and that the location be in a high traffic area either by foot or vehicle.

But even if an area meets all those requirements, Whole Foods may still not come, said Sinatra. The small company is just a little over 30 years old, and only has been in the Northeast for 10 years. The slowly expanding grocery chain expects to open just 20 to 35 new locations nationwide this year—with an eventual goal of 1,000 stores nationwide—with only one to four of those sites in the Tri-State area.

Sinatra said the company could consider opening a location in the area, but not necessarily in East Windsor, and for now the company is content with its locations in Princeton and the one in development in Marlboro.

“We’re very selective in what we do. We don’t grow fast in that every store is custom built for the community,” said Sinatra.

Like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s also encourages residents to suggest particular locations for new stores. However, several real estate professionals in the area who have worked with Trader Joe's say they are forbidden to speak to the press about the grocery store chain.

The chain has about 375 stores and was founded in in the late 1950s. Supermarket News, ranked the chain No. 21 in its list of Top 75 food retailers in North America that achieved annual sales in excess of $1 billion.

Trader Joe’s also has been described by CNN Money as “an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience. It stocks its shelves with a winning combination of low-cost, yuppie-friendly staples (cage-free eggs and organic blue agave sweetener) and exotic, affordable luxuries—Belgian butter waffle cookies or Thai lime-and-chili cashews—that you simply can't find anyplace else.

“Employees dress in goofy trademark Hawaiian shirts, hand stickers out to your squirming kids, and cheerfully refund your money if you're unhappy with a purchase—no questions asked.”

In addition, its Trader Joe’s line of foods is sought after by many shoppers, with the coffee, wine, chocolate and veggie burgers among the favorite purchases.

If you want to encourage the businesses to move into East Windsor, click HERE for Whole Foods, and HERE for Trader Joe’s.

gjc February 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Whole Foods is a bunch of snobs if they really think that only college graduates think about buying healthy food.The first time I read about Whole Foods store selection criteria was when Marlboro announced that Whole Foods was building there. I decided at that time they I would not patronize such a store. I can run rings around them buying healthy and cost effective food. Can you imagine that with only an Associate's degree behind me? Tsk, tsk.
Margaret February 05, 2013 at 01:01 PM
you do realize, don't you, that the college degree is not about the education per se, but rather the salary that goes along with it. People who have a college education tend to have larger salaries than those who don't, and therefore, more money to spend on food supplies. The secondary, is that they tend to be more health conscious than someone with just a HS diploma. That being said, East Windsor will never get a Whole Foods or likely a Trader Joes given the large illegal alien population in the sanctuary city of Hightstown which clearly does not meet the criteria of either business.
WhyohWhy February 05, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Well me personally, take offense to Whole Foods reasons for where they open their stores! I agree "gjc"....I for one am not a college grade and really liked go to Whole Foods once in a great while. NOW? I will NOT shop in that store again. How can you (Whole Foods)make such a comment like that? SMH
Maw February 05, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Gjc. Your sensitivity to their criteria speaks more about your own insecurities regarding your level of education than anything else. Get over it.
Maw February 05, 2013 at 02:20 PM
I would never have guessed that you didn't graduate college given your fantastic writing skills.
Michele Coccaro Benedict February 05, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I wish Whole Foods would come to this area, I have to travel 30 minutes to Dean's Natural Market because stores around here just do not compare. The closest thing would be stop and shop with their three aisle organic section. I don't care what their criteria is, I just want healthy food for my family and I. They are running a business, of course they are going to open shop where they're most likely to succeed. It makes sense.
whatever41 February 05, 2013 at 05:18 PM
LOL!
Leslie Bianczik February 05, 2013 at 05:22 PM
You have basically confirmed that what they are doing makes sense. You shopping there "once in a great while" isn't going to keep them in business very long.
Leslie Bianczik February 05, 2013 at 05:27 PM
NEWSFLASH: Boutique stores cater to a higher-income demographic.
whatever41 February 05, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Welcome to the "peanut gallery" Leslie.
Hightstown Homeowner February 05, 2013 at 06:57 PM
As if Whole Foods was the only store to do market research or use "big data" to better understand the market and their consumers. It's done by every retailer every day and it will only continue to increase.
Barbara Kube February 05, 2013 at 07:53 PM
What about an Aldi's?
Jake February 05, 2013 at 10:53 PM
This may come as a major shock to you, but there are a TJ's and Whole Foods in West Windsor.
Joseph Beim February 06, 2013 at 06:39 PM
How about a good Waldbaum's with a decent appetizing section? Can't find a good piece kishke or a chubb anywhere around here! And god forbid, a six-pack of Cel-Ray!
whatever41 February 07, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Would you please describe to us gentiles what these are???? I'm familiar with kishke but not the other two. Thanks
Pamela Baur February 09, 2013 at 10:45 AM
Would love to have a Trader Joe's nearby!
Christina Marie March 21, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Have to agree with Hightstown Homeowner...it's done by all the stores! Aldi wouldn't go into a high income area just like dollar food stores or even dollar stores for that matter. Your shop rite price plus card...dictates what the store should stock and what they should put on sale...based on your purchases. It's called Sales and Marketing...strategic planning..vital to any profitable business. Unfortunately and/or fortunately...education, salary, and ethnic group dictates business practices.

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