Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s has dropped plans to develop in a black Portland neighborhood after community activists complained that they  do not want a Trader Joe’s in their neighborhood.

“We open a limited number of stores each year, in communities across the country,” it said in a statement. “We run neighborhood stores, and our approach is simple: If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question.”

The Portland Development Commission was offering a hefty discount to the store to develop on a lot that had been vacant for years. 

Community activists feared the new store would further gentrify the area and drive out the long time residents because of higher prices.  The Portland African American Leadership Forum said the development commission had in the past made promises about preventing projects from displacing community members but hadn’t fulfilled them. In a letter sent to the city the organization said they would  “remain opposed to any development in N/NE Portland that does not primarily benefit the Black community.” It said the grocery-store development would “increase the desirability of the neighborhood,” for “non-oppressed populations.”

But many people feel that the store could have benefited the community. Especially one company in particular.  According to The OregonianPortland-based Colas Construction, a minority-owned construction company, no longer has the large contract to work on the construction of the store.

“Moving forward, we will be communicating with the various stakeholders: Including those who wanted this development and who were excited about it, and those who didn’t want it to happen. It is too soon to say what comes next for this site. We will work with the full range of stakeholders to determine the next steps. And we remain committed to working with stakeholders to find projects for this and other development sites throughout the city,” city officials said.

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  • Tiff

    Trader Joe’s is not just a supermarket, it has a culture of teaching people the art of eating well, healthy for cheap. Missed opportunity. No one seemed to answer the question that was posed: did they boycott McDonald’s too? You bet they won’t cause they can’t win that fight. McDonald’s will be in your neighborhood you like it or not. I hate to say it I think they now deserve what they will get.

  • Now, I love me some Trader Joe’s, but truth is, like Mo says this issue isn’t about just Trader Joe’s. When a bulk of the community won’t be able to live there anymore and won’t even be benefiting from it, what’s the point? The new Trader Joe’s is not symbolic of healthy eating options for the black community in that town, but rather healthy eating for the newer, whiter population and displacement for the current residents. So if that’s the price you pay, then I can see why opting to be drastic and not allowing it all together seems like a dumb move on the surface, but actually serves a greater purpose. I agree that it may be wiser to try and negotiate trying to keep the property costs down while simultaneously supporting the Trader Joe’s, but, realistically, once the Trader Joe’s comes it would be too late. The reasons why black people often get displaced is due to lack of economic freedom that is centuries in the making. The process to undo that is long an arduous and won’t go away as long as people just keep accepting gentrification.

  • ms lexic

    One thing that is unfortunately not covered in this article (or in the linked article from the Oregonian) is that the issue was not with Trader Joe’s.

    Please see this statement from the Portland African American Leadership Forum on their Facebook page:

    “Our advocacy has, and will continue, to be rooted in the bad business practices of the City of Portland/Portland Development Commission, and their continued pattern of back-room decision making processes, lack of transparency, and use of tax payer dollars to subsidize development without giving residents decision making power over the development and management of their neighborhoods.

    We are not against Trader Joes, nor have we ever been. We were advocating for affordable housing on top or adjacent to the Trader Joes. Mixed use for the site, with affordable housing, was publicly supported by the Mayor on several occasions.

    It is unfortunate that Trader Joe’s got the impression that the community did not want them, as this was never stated by our organization and is certainly not the case. It is also unfortunate that they did not communicate directly with PAALF on our position prior to pulling out of the deal.

    Please check-out our full statement for an overview of our position. We are fighting for residents, of all perspectives and backgrounds, as well as those who have been displaced, to have decision making power over their neighborhoods.

    We will be hosting a community visioning session on Feb 18 and Feb 25 to develop a community-based plan for the site and other vacant public lands. This process will model what community-controlled development should and will look like. All are welcome!

    We hope this clarifies our position.”

  • Kiki

    I feel TJ was looking for cheap land and possible tax breaks.