Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s in Champaign

Developer Proposal #4 – First Street and Windsor Retail Center, Champaign


This week we picked up the proposal from Fox Development Corporation, who control the University of Illinois Research Park (near the I-Hotel). They are creating a new retail location at the corner of First Street and Windsor Road in Champaign. The new First Street and Windsor Retail Center is described as an “upscale” shopping plaza, and the location at the south entrance of the Research Park, near Memorial Stadium and the Assembly Hall, makes it a prime location for our residents and people who come into town for games or other University of Illinois events. It is close to the campus for students, yet is on the main corridor between Urbana and Champaign, allowing residents of both easy access. The First Street and Windsor development will be a combination of retail and contemporary residential spaces, and tentatively includes walking paths around a pond and beautifully landscaped common areas.

The impressive portfolio contains detailed demographic, traffic, and income information, as well as plans outlining the buildings and development itself. The First Street and Windsor Retail Center is an exceptional location with a vibe that would certainly fit the Trader Joe’s image.

We are pleased to include Fox Development Corporation’s proposal in the package of materials we are compiling to submit to Trader Joe’s parent company. For those just joining our community campaign to bring Trader Joe’s to Central Illinois, you may also view the other developer proposals that will be included.


Developer Proposal #3 – City Center, Savoy


As we move forward in our campaign to bring Trader Joe’s to C-U, we continue to highlight the developers who have partnered with us in our effort. This week, we showcase the Trader Joe’s location proposed by the Thompson Land Company.

The Thompson Land Company has a seven acre parcel of land in the rapidly expanding Savoy township. The Thompson Land Company property is aptly named the Savoy City Center, and is located south of Burwash Avenue on the west side of south Neil Street (US-45). It is in a highly visible area, being just north of Willard Airport, near the University of Illinois campus, adjacent to fine Savoy neighborhoods, and situated along one of the main roads through Champaign-Urbana. The Savoy City Center is an excellent option for Trader Joe’s since it is noticeable, easily accessible, and there are currently few grocery stores in the region. Trader Joe’s would help anchor a new, vibrant shopping plaza in this quickly growing sector of our community.

Are Grassroots Efforts Pointless?


Online petitions are everywhere these days. They are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. Campaign and lobbying experts will tell you online petitions are ineffective because signatures cannot be verified, thus holding little sway. Other sources say that Trader Joe’s cannot be wooed and so our grassroots campaign will not work. But we beg to differ… on both counts.

For two years the residents of the small town of Olympia, Washington, wrote letters to Trader Joe’s asking them to build a store. Trader Joe’s wrote back and said they had no intention of opening a store in the city of 46,100 people (2009 Census). But the people of Olympia were not deterred and started a petition, which gathered just 329 signatures, and continued writing letters to the company. Trader Joe’s opened a store in Olympia in 2009.

The city of Winston-Salem, NC, started contacting Trader Joe’s 10 years ago. They got a petition going four years ago, which gathered 500 signatures.  The people of Winston-Salem continued their campaign with a Facebook page and later wrote a catchy song complete with a music video to entice the company.  The Winston-Salem store will open in August.

In 2008, the residents of Palm Springs, California, gathered a staggering 6,000 signatures in just two months. This small town of 48,181 people (2009 Census) were rewarded for their Trader Joe’s passion when the company opened a store right on the Palm Springs border in Cathedral City a couple of years later.

Several years earlier, in 2000, the people of Long Beach, California, successfully petitioned Trader Joe’s with 5,000 signatures to build a store in their city, even though another Trader Joe’s was located a mere 4.5 miles away.

Economic developers in Virgina Beach, VA, wrote Trader Joe’s to ask the company to consider their town. But it wasn’t until 2007 when a handful of Virginia Beach residents collected over 1,200 signatures on a petition that plans were finalized. The Virginia Beach store opened in 2009.

The residents of Albany, New York, started a grassroots campaign and gathered 2,306 signatures on their petition to bring Trader Joe’s to the capitol city. Not only did they have to convince the company, but they had to run a second petition to get a zoning variance necessary for Trader Joe’s to build its new store. The store in Colonie, NY – just minutes from downtown Albany – will open in August.

So it would appear that grassroots campaigns have succeeded in the past (whether Trader Joe’s admits it or not!).  Let’s make C-U the next success story!

A Response to SmilePolitely.com


SmilePolitely.com published an opinion article, “Upsetting the grocery cart“, highlighting the Trader Joe’s 4 C-U petition. There are inaccuracies speckled throughout both the article and the comments. I’m not going to deal with all of them right now, but I’d like to address a few of the errors about the reasoning and motives behind our movement.

Error 1) It is implied that this movement will not work to attract Trader Joe’s

There are several (more than that, really) communities that have previously done exactly what we are doing. And guess what? Those communities now have or are getting Trader Joe’s stores. This is not a pipe dream. This kind of effort does work and has a proven track record. A writeup is coming later this summer that will go into more detail about other towns that have successfully drawn Trader Joe’s.

Error 2) Champaign-Urbana already has plenty of stores that offer what Trader Joe’s offers

The issue for those of us who want Trader Joe’s in C-U is not that there are no stores that sell healthy, natural, gluten-free, organic, etc. items in Central Illinois, it is that no stores offer truly affordable options.  It is not practical to suggest that families and individuals go to 6-8 stores a week to find the items they need. You could potentially go to several different stores/markets in town and you may find similar products to what Trader Joe’s carries, but you will be spending more money on those individual items, more on gas, and more in time than if you go to a Trader Joe’s and buy all of those things in one place, at very low everyday prices.

Error 3) “We-Know-What’s-Good-For-You” Approach

This is not so much an error than a prevailing pretentious, condescending attitude coming from many – possibly most – people who are against Trader Joe’s. This is found mainly in the comments section, from Smile Politely writers and readers alike. I’m sorry to disappoint (and severely weaken your arguments), but the people who want a Trader Joe’s store in Central Illinois are not low-income simpletons who cannot figure out how to provide wholesome foods for our families with the current grocery spectrum in our community. Nor are we privileged college students who only care about “dropping our parent’s money” on easily accessible cheap wine, as another commenter states. We are Central Illinois community members, just like you. We are families and individuals who want a place to shop for healthy, wholesome foods that meet our budgetary needs. The snobbery being displayed is offensive and borderline discriminatory.

Error 4) Local is better – ideally

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to shop solely at locally run stores. But let’s face reality; locally run businesses have higher overhead and costs to absorb than larger chain stores. These costs are passed on to the consumer and make places like Common Ground and Strawberry Fields much more expensive. I am a Common Ground co-op member and shop there for some things. Supporting local business is important, but that doesn’t mean that the needs of a large segment of the community are to be ignored if the locally run stores are unable to meet those needs.

So here’s the bottom line: Does the thriving of local businesses take precedence over the thriving of individuals and families in the community? Absolutely not. If the local businesses are not providing what a large mass of the population needs, we should not be made to feel guilty for going out to pursue what is missing in our local stores. The overall good and health of our families is too important.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: locally run stores and Trader Joe’s are NOT mutually exclusive. Everyone deserves the right to affordable, healthy foods. Those who tout the high-and-mighty attitude that you can only support local stores and if you don’t you’re less of a person or member of the community are just plain wrong.

If the narrow-minded SmilePolitely.com comments mirror the attitude of the majority of people who shop exclusively at locally run stores, count me out. Give me a Trader Joe’s where I can shop alongside other average joes who value wholesome, creative, natural, affordable living without being smug.

While they send their “polite smiles” our way, let’s redouble our efforts to bring Trader Joe’s to Central Illinois.

TJ’s 4 C-U in Daily Illini Letter to Editor


Yesterday The Daily Illini published a Letter to the Editor featuring the effort to bring Trader Joe’s to Central Illinois.

Location, Location, Location


On the Trader Joe’s in Central Illinois Facebook page, there has been some discussion about potential locations for a Trader Joe’s in Champaign-Urbana. Inquiring minds here want to know your ideas! If you could pick a spot for a Trader Joe’s in C-U, where would it be and why?

Printable Trader Joe’s 4 C-U Flyer Now Available!


The Bring Trader Joe’s to C-U printable flyer is now available! Check it out here and post it around your community!