With recent growing awareness of the importance of wholesome, natural foods, there is a huge untapped market for a Trader Joe’s store in Champaign-Urbana. Those of us who want Trader Joe’s to come to Central Illinois believe that everyone, from single students to big families, deserve to be able to afford healthy and delicious foods regularly. Currently there is a big gap in the marketplace for people who want to eat well, or who have allergies or gluten sensitivities, but do not have a high grocery budget.
We are not trying to downplay the smaller, local health food stores or the Farmer’s Market in our communities. We love those places and shop there, too! But the fact remains that our current stores and market are unable to provide food at a truly affordable prices for the majority of our community members. The local health food stores have a loyal customer base. We feel strongly that a Trader Joe’s in central Illinois would not hurt the already existing stores.
Right now a large number of people from Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas travel to St. Louis, Chicago, or Indianapolis to shop at the nearest Trader Joe’s – between two and three hours away! We stock up, bringing our haul back to our homes, only to do it again when our supplies are low. This is money that is already being spent outside of our community by people who live here. This is not currently having a negative impact on our existing health food stores, yet it is negatively affecting our town’s economy. This money could be spent here, bringing in revenue for our city (via sales tax) and local jobs. A Trader Joe’s in Champaign-Urbana would also bring people from surrounding areas to our city: if people are in C-U to buy at Trader Joe’s, they will likely shop at other stores while here.
Trader Joe’s and locally-run stores are not mutually exclusive, and a TJ’s in Champaign-Urbana would serve to benefit a mass of the local population that is currently being ignored.