It was never about Trader Joe’s. That’s what’s getting lost in the whole thing.
This was a zoning matter. And Greensboro has more ready-made spots for grocery stores than Trader Joe’s does roasts of coffee.
And yet, the plan to attract what is one of the country’s most beloved franchises — so much so that “The Simpsons” parodied it two years ago — involved rezoning a stretch of land that came with the burden of unwilling participants as stakeholders.
Remember, the Winston-Salem store had no such zoning issues. And neither would existing Greensboro retail locations in Irving Park, north Battleground and Glenwood.
Just kidding about that last one. They’d never put a Trader Joe’s in Glenwood.
And for now, anyway, they won’t be putting one in Greensboro. But not because people don’t like Trader Joe’s.
How could anyone have a problem with Trader Joe’s? It’s wonderful. Great coffee. Great produce. Possibly the only purveyor of chocolate-covered, salt-encrusted almonds in the Triad.
The Winston-Salem Trader Joe’s is thriving, giving a superfluous boost to the already established Stratford Road area. If there was backlash against Trader Joe’s in Winston-Salem when it came to town in 2012, no one remembers it. They’re too busy picking Brussels sprouts straight off the stems.
Yet somehow Greensboro managed to chase off the preferred boutique grocery of white people everywhere, even attracting attention from the corporate office. Trader Joe’s has more than 400 stores in 30 states, but the CEO knows Greensboro specifically because he has said he is “no longer interested” in putting a store here “at this time” — that’s according to some great reporting by our colleague Catherine Carlock over at the Triad Business Journal, who traced the CEO’s decision to a single email from a Greensboro resident.
But remember: It was never about Trader Joe’s. Everyone loves Trader Joe’s, except backwoods cranks who’ve never known the sublime pleasures of a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck and, possibly, the Amish.
As a plan to attract business and create jobs — AKA “economic development” — this was a failure in every way, except in that a residential neighborhood was able to control its own destiny in the face of wanton development. Sort of. The rezoning issue is still live.
And still in Greensboro we’re without a Trader Joe’s, that wonderful thing that everybody else has. Maybe, in a few years, if the CEO forgets what a pain in the ass we are as a city, we can nail down a location before we strike up the band.