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!

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