Provo City pitches to get its own Trader Joe’s

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All photos courtesy of “Trader Joe’s for Provo” Facebook page.

It boasts a loyal cult following of students, parents, online bloggers and even Provo’s mayor.

Trader Joe’s, the Pasadena-born grocery store, is being sought out by the Provo retail community, a movement led by Mayor John Curtis as part of Provo City’s WeTellRetail initiative.

A post from the Provo City Twitter page urging residents to get involved in bringing the popular store to Provo. Social media is expanding the movement's popularity.
A post from the Provo City Twitter page urging residents to get involved in bringing the popular store to Provo. Social media is expanding the movement’s popularity.

Curtis encouraged Provo residents in a February blog post to write letters, which he plans to personally deliver to the company’s corporate office in Monrovia, California, in the coming months. Curtis also organized a video competition, offering $500 for the best video explaining why the chain should come to Provo.

“The cry for more retail in Provo is legitimate, and I hope residents know I’m listening and taking action,” Curtis said. “These deals do not happen overnight, but they are in the works.”

Only a handful of the 32 comments on the mayor’s initial post disagreed with the retail push for Trader Joe’s, suggesting instead an Apple store, a Target or a Dunkin’ Donuts.

BYU student Kat Roemer, a senior studying recreation management, grew up where the popular store began. She considers herself Trader Joe’s No. 1 fan and a big supporter of Provo’s push for the store.

“I really respect the mayor for getting involved in business and supporting the residents’ wants and needs,” Roemer said. “I think that it will be successful.” She believes that Trader Joe’s personable, responsive customer service will allow the residents to catch the company’s attention. “Trader Joe’s is really good about listening to feedback,” Roemer said. “They actually have people read (the comments).”

A post on the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Provo” Facebook page. Seventy-four percent of those surveyed want to see the store come to Provo.

One way fans of Trader Joe’s are connecting is through Facebook. The “Trader Joe’s for Provo” page has more than 1,800 members.

Social media outreach is key to a company’s success, said Brad Hill, account manager at the BYU AdLab. “The big thing is that Trader Joe’s didn’t even start this,” he said. “Exposure is exposure.”

Hill thinks the free publicity generated by Provo supporters means shelves could soon be stocked with the store’s famous cookie butter. “The most important thing about social media is making sure you don’t ignore your fans,” Hill said. “It’s been a positive campaign, so (it) will probably have a positive response.”

Roemer, whose hometown boasts more than three of the stores within a radius of a few miles, thinks the store’s Provo addition could benefit students, residents pursuing healthy eating habits on a budget and even those who simply want the Trader Joe’s experience.

“Everything is aesthetically pleasing when you walk in,” she said. “It’s definitely more of an experience for the consumer. (But) at the same time, their food is really good.”

While customer relations specialist Rachel Broderick said there are no immediate plans for a Trader Joe’s location in Provo, she said it’s a question she’s been receiving a lot lately.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed during Provo’s Retail Summit, and 74 percent want to see a Trader Joe’s in Provo. Trader Joe’s currently has two Utah locations, in Salt Lake City and Cottonwood Heights, and more than 400 total locations nationwide.

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