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Bring Trader Joe’s to Saratoga Springs

Saturday, May 13th, 2006 · 4 Comments

Back in February I wrote about my ideas for what should be done with the proposed $100 million High Rock Redevelopment — bring a Trader Joe’s and an independent movie theater — and later that month even had a letter on the topic published in the Saratogian.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who wants a Trader Joe’s to come here. I talked to a number of people who were incredibly excited at the time (one friend, who shall remain nameless to protect her identity, even said that she would do illegal things to bring TJ’s here!), and, according to a Team Saratoga survey, there are many, many more, as the Times Union wrote about earlier this week:

Newcomers bring new tastes / Survey finds shift in the type of stores Saratoga Springs residents want, with most now hoping for a Trader Joe’s:

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forget the five-and-dime, residents have told city and community leaders. They want the eclectic offerings of Trader Joe’s, a California-based grocery chain.

A decade ago when the city asked residents what businesses they wanted downtown, they chose a store with cheap notions and household goods. This time, Team Saratoga, the all-volunteer marketing team querying residents, found Trader Joe’s as the selection on more than 50 percent of 1,500 surveys returned.

And that surprised them.

“We have a citizenry in Saratoga that’s very different from even five years ago,” said Jennifer Leidig, who chairs Team Saratoga. “It’s going to show we have a completely different makeup in the city than what other surveys have shown us.”

The last comprehensive survey was completed by the Downtown Business Association, which represents local stores and companies.

“They wanted a Woolworth’s,” said Susan Farnsworth, who markets events on Broadway for the DBA. “And Grand Union was their favorite downtown shopping destination.”

The city’s makeup has changed drastically since that survey was conducted — and F.W. Woolworth, a longtime five-and-dime, shut its doors nationwide in 1997, and The Grand Union Co., once a well-known New Jersey-based supermarket chain, liquidated in 2001.

From 1995 to 2000, 49.9 percent of the city’s residents were newcomers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New arrivals also were wealthier, bringing more taxable income. From 1996 to 2003 these residents increased Saratoga County’s taxable income base by $227.3 million, according to Internal Revenue Service data cited by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.

Read more…

Trader Joe’s has no immediate plans to bring a store to Saratoga Springs — and I do worry about the impact it would have on local specialty grocery businesses like Putnam Market and Four Seasons Natural Foods Store & Cafe — but let’s keep voicing our support for one and hopefully the powers that be will listen to the people.

And as for the impact on local businesses, I like to believe that Putnam and Four Seasons would be safe since they cater more to in-and-out foot traffic high-end shopping, and are not places where you can actually do your full grocery shopping or buy 2-buck Chuck or sushi.

Tags: saratoga springs

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 M // May 15, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    I think it’s unfair to characterize this as an “outsider” move, as if those who have moved here are the ones who want new, interesting things and the natives would rather have boring old stodgy crap but are being overruled. I’m not an “outsider,” and I’d much rather have new, interesting options like a Trader Joe’s than some place that sells Wal-Mart-esque junk.

  • 2 Joe // May 15, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks to the religiofascists here, our Trader Joes is not allowed to sell wine. Why even bother opening up the damn store???? I HATE religious laws. What is this, the Maryland Taliban?

  • 3 glenn // May 15, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    google the novato healthy foods coalition- their surveying efforts and lobbying efforts successfully brought both Trader Joe’s (now open) and Whole Foods (complete redevelopment project just breaking ground).

  • 4 glenn // May 15, 2006 at 3:38 pm
    It seems that a group of Novato residents had similar thoughts 18 months ago, and formed the Novato Healthy Foods Coalition. Take a look at their web site, and click on the Survey Results. Check out the fact that 32% of Novato residents have a household income of between $101,000 and 150,000.

    I would wager a guess that much of the money in those households that is earmarked for dining, groceries and entertainment is being spent outside of Novato. And that adds up to quite a chunk of change.

    In 2004, The NHFC launched a letter writing campaign in 2004 to bring Whole Foods and Trader Joes to Novato. It seems that they have succeeded. Trader Joes is under construction, and the plans for Whole Foods were just approved.

    But it wasn’t without a fight; the drama that ensued over the Whole Foods project was Shakespearean. People literally came out of the woodwork with objections. One afternoon, as I was flipping through cable channels, I found the local access Novato channel. They were showing one of the community meetings regarding the WF Project. One woman got up and expressed her opinion that the store would create “vertical sprawl.” Vertical sprawl? Are you going to lose your view of Chevy’s? Or am I missing something here?

    Whole Foods is not a cure-all; it is simply one store, and it has its flaws. I’m not naive enough to think that this is the Big Answer. But I was truly astounded by the backlash that this project created .