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The Los Angeles Times reports on the “conundrum” facing Trader Joe’s, which “has expanded from more than 20 locations in Southern California in the 1970s to more than 360 shops in far-flung places such as New York, Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa. Its smallest shop, at 5,500 square feet, is in Boston. Last year, the company pulled in an estimated $8 billion in sales, roughly on par with rival Whole Foods Market, based in Austin, Texas.” This expansion comes after “decades cultivating an image as the cozy neighborhood grocer,” the the Times writes that Trader Joe’s has to figure out “how to maintain the eclectic, friendly vibe that has garnered it legions of faithful shoppers, while expanding at a brisk pace.”

The always reliable Burt Flickinger, of Strategic Resource Group, tells the Times that Trader Joe’s “is seeking to expand the size of its shops by building new stores and also renting bigger retail spaces in new markets. A 13,000-square-foot Trader Joe's opened in Hollywood last year. Some stores, such as a location in Silver Lake and another in Eagle Rock, have already expanded.

“The average Trader Joe's store probably will increase from between 10,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet now to 15,000 square feet and bigger, Flickinger predicts. ‘Trader Joe's can make double or triple the sales volume per week at a bigger store than at a small store, while checkmating competitors,’ he said.”
KC's View:
I’ve been to Trader Joe’s stores all over the country, and I have to admit that I’ve never been aware of any sort of diminution of the company’s unique culture and approach. I’m sure that this is an issue that the company has to pay close attention to, but it seems to me that whatever they are doing, it seems to be working.