UPDATE: 9/17/2014 – Patience has paid off as an announcement was made this morning | Trader Joe’s arrives in Birmingham in late 2015
A recent Los Angeles Times interview with Trader Joe’s founder, Joe Coulombe, referred to the popular retailer “a lifestyle feature.” It’s one that folks in metro Birmingham are desperately trying to land.
The interviewer asked about the online battle taking place here in Alabama about where to put a Trader Joe’s. The response has sparked some debate:
There’s a Facebook battle in Alabama to get a Trader Joe’s. It’s become like landing an NFL franchise.
I had that in California. Claremont was especially noisy, but unless you have enough well-educated people, Trader Joe’s will not work. Claremont had well-educated people, but not enough. They have one [there] now.
Another interesting point brought up by Coulombe was how the salaries were determined for the original stores; it was based off of the median family income – a practice that is still followed by the company (which is now owned by a trust created by the owners of the Aldi grocery store chain).
If Trader Joe’s were to put a location in the state of Alabama and they followed the median family income policy, based on 2009 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average employee for the chain could potentially make $39,980/year, plus benefits.
This would all be great – if Trader Joe’s had plans to move into metro Birmingham in the near future. According to a Birmingham News article written last month, it’s not in the cards (at least not for the next couple of years). That’s even with three different efforts taking place on Facebook trying to get them to consider a location in Birmingham or Hoover. Then there’s the one we wrote about back in March 2009 – they’ve now got close to 1,500 members.