If you live near a Trader Joe’s grocery store, take a moment to be thankful. The UK’s Guardian reminds us that there are zero, count ’em zero Trader Joe’s in Canada and one fearless entrepreneur has responded by smuggling the store’s affordable organic goods into his country.
Michael “Pirate Joe” Hallatt brings thousands of dollars’ worth of Trader Joe’s products — “dish soup to black bean quinoa chips” — from Bellingham, Washington across the border into Vancouver every week. He sells his wares his own Vancouver storefront, where signs saying “Trader Joe’s isn’t happy with us” and “unaffiliated, unauthorized retailer” are prominently displayed. After three years of Hallatt transporting goods in reusable bags, Trader Joe’s finally sued him. Unfortunately for the company, an appeals court rualed they were not being harmed by Pirate Joe’s actions and the resale business was entirely legal. Now Pirate Joe’s website proudly states/gloats “We were sued but we won.
Still, the lawsuit didn’t go over well with Trader Joe’s and Hallatt is now recognizable enough to Trader Joe’s employees that he has to send in “cats” — an army of shoppers the TJ’s staff won’t recognize — to buy food in bulk for him. He also admitted that if a Vancouver Trader Joe’s opens, he would close his Pirate Joe’s store. But where’s the fun in that?
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