Trader Joe's fan spearheads campaign for North Adams store

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NORTH ADAMS — A campaign is underway to persuade Trader Joe's to open a store in the former Price Chopper location on State Road.

Melissa Brink of Williamstown sparked the campaign when she sent out an email Thursday. The effort is in its early stages.

In the email, she asks supporters to go to Trader Joe's website and fill out a form titled "Request a TJ's in My City."

Brink said she has a friend in Clifton Park, N.Y., who ran a similar campaign a few years ago that resulted in a new Trader Joe's on Wolf Road in Albany. The next-closest Trader Joe's is in Hadley, about a 90-minute drive, Brink said.

"That building and parking lot are just about the right size for a typical Trader Joe's store," Brink said of the State Road site. "They also like to source their food locally, and we have tons of farms around here."

Brink acknowledged that there might not be enough local residents in the surrounding area for a Trader Joe's, unless the company takes into account the large number of visitors the area attracts from May through October.

"That's why I'm trying to get the folks from North Adams, Williamstown, Adams and Lanesborough to weigh in," she added.

Her initial email went out to about 40 friends. About 25 of them have said they will fill out the form at the company's website, traderjoes.com/contact-us/location-request.

The store request form gives the following instructions: "Recommend a location where you'd like to see a TJ's. Please provide the City and State in the fields provided. Additional specifics (neighborhood, address, etc.) can be added in the comments field."

It adds: "There are no guarantees, but being wanted matters to us. Thank you for your recommendation."

According to Kenya Friend-Daniel, director of communications for Trader Joe's, the company's real estate team reads every request form submitted. The company always is on the lookout for new locations.

"We don't have a formula on the number of requests we receive to open a store," she said. But the requests do bring a location to the attention of company officials and could result in the evaluation.

"We prefer to put our stores in neighborhoods that want them," Friend-Daniel said. "We don't want to open a store where we're not wanted."

She said that, ultimately, a Trader Joe's will open in places that makes sense for the company — "a place that is a good fit, that has easy access and where people will want to visit our store."

The North Adams Price Chopper closed abruptly in February 2016, causing neighbors consternation over the increased distance to obtain groceries, especially for the elderly and the economically challenged.

Many in nearby neighborhoods faced longer walks to buy groceries or had to scramble to find transportation.

Trader Joe's started out as a small chain of convenience stores in 1958 called Pronto Markets. In 1967, founder Trader Joe changed the name and started packaging foods under the "Trader Joe's" brand. Trader Joe's operates 479 stores across the U.S.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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