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"We’re thinking they’re growing at about a 6 percent rate. We think that’s conservative," Plunkett said. "The best indicator is they continue to expand into new markets. They’re expanding into Utah. They’ve recently expanded into Texas. They wouldn’t do that if the formula didn’t work."
A big part of that success, he added, can be attributed to Trader Joe’s-branded food. More than 80 percent of what the grocer sells is specialty foods, from Trader Joe’s Honey Nut O’s Cereal to Trader Joe’s Garbanzo Beans and Trader Joe’s Chicken Mole with White Rice.
Trader Joe’s grand opening in SLC
When » Friday, Nov. 30. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Where » 634 E. 400 South (inside The Family Center at East Downtown)
What’s happening » A lei-cutting (as opposed to a ribbon-cutting) will be performed at 7:45 a.m. The first 100 customers will be given a lei. Random bags of groceries will be handed out throughout the day
Normal stores hours » 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week
Trader Joe’s ‘Most Favored Favorite Products’ for 2011
1. Frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken
2. Triple Ginger Snap Cookies
3. Greek Yogurt
4. Hummus (Chipotle, Jalapeño Cilantro, Mediterranean)
5. Candy Cane Joe Joe’s Cookies*
6. Frozen Chocolate Croissants
7. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
8. Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds
9. Frozen Mac ‘n Cheese
10. Charles Shaw Wines
The company won’t say which wholesalers provide products, but it prides itself in getting goods from around the world.
"[Trader Joe’s] is big but not so big that it can’t be supported by medium-sized suppliers. They can go to a supplier and say, ‘Can you give me 80,000 cases of this product?’ Whereas Safeway may have to ask for a million cases. It does give them more flexibility," Plunkett said. "Retailers love selling private merchandise, and many successful concepts try to do that to an extent. They get to control the retail price."
More importantly, a private label also creates more customer loyalty. So much so that there are Trader Joe’s fan pages on Facebook. One was created specifically for Utahns’ craving for the first store in the Beehive State.
Therapist Sheets will travel more than 45 minutes from her home in Clinton to stand in line about an hour before the new Salt Lake City Trader Joe’s opens. At last, she said, she won’t have to travel to stores in Arizona or her native Southern California to get dried mangos or pineapple, or the saffron she says is "uber-cheap."
"It’s like a rite of passage of some sort to get a Trader Joe’s here. I know it’s just a grocery store, but it makes us [Utahns] feel like we’re not so excluded," she said. "It’s like when we got an In-N-Out Burger — anytime I can get a taste of home it makes Utah seem a little less weird."
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