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Monday, April 07, 2014

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Trader Joe's A Grand Slam For South Florida Retail

Samantha Joseph, Daily Business Review
April 04, 2014
Trader Joe's  Photo: J. Albert Diaz

Even though they're about 30 miles and several cities away, the creators of a major live-work-play development in Plantation are excited about the changes to the retail landscape that will come from a gourmet supermarket chain under construction in Delray Beach and set to expand this year across South Florida.

The suits at US Capital Holdings Group, the firm behind the $300 million development at Broward's former Fashion Mall, are applauding the Hawaiian shirt-clad executives at Trader Joe's, the quirky retailer targeting South Florida for growth—at long last in the view of patrons accustomed to shopping at its other stores nationally.

"Not only is Trader Joe's one of the hottest retailers in the U.S., they are such a unique tenant and have such a loyal customer following, they will no doubt attract other higher-quality tenants to the market," said Jennifer Moran, US Capital Holdings Group's director of leasing. "They are a great addition to any mixed-use project."

Brokers say the gourmet grocer with reported annual sales in the $8 billion range from more than 350 stores and a roster of affluent, educated and sophisticated clients attracts other high-end tenants.

The chain has honed its skills at catering to well-heeled customers to such a level that shoppers tell stories of traveling across town—or even farther—to stock up on Trader Joe's fare. When the first South Florida Trader Joe's opened in suburban Miami last October, it snarled traffic in the Pinecrest neighborhood.

Trader Joe's "is a phenomenal brand with a cult following wherever they go," said Barry Wolfe, vice president of investments and senior director of the national retail group at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. "You see people signing petitions to bring them in."

Florida Joe

Nearly 2,300 people signed an online petition by Nadine Whiteman, a Broward woman who launched a Facebook page that garnered 893 likes, thousands of visitors, media attention and strong support for her lobbying effort last year to bring a Trader Joe's store to the Fort Lauderdale area.

It's that strong customer loyalty, often described as cult-like, that draws long lines and celebratory atmospheres at Trader Joe's openings.

"They'll definitely have an impact," Wolfe said. "If you have a shopping center and bring Trader Joe's in, that's a grand slam."

The retail chain is notoriously tight-lipped about everything from its suppliers to its branding, and the same goes for its real estate footprint.


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