downtown los angeles

Trader Joe’s Snubs Downtown LA: “Not in 3-Year Plan”

No Trader Joe's for Downtown LA for now...

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but after getting in touch with several employees at Trader Joe’s involved with corporate operations asking about Trader Joe’s opening in Downtown LA in the near future, I was directed to their customer relations where I was told that Trader Joe’s won’t be opening up in Downtown LA anytime soon. In fact, I was told specifically that it wasn’t in their company’s 3-year expansion plan. No explanation given. Thank you.

This is especially frustrating to Downtown LA residents who have collectively “yelled out” loud and clear that a neighborhood Trader Joe’s is the highest on a “Downtown LA wish list” survey conducted by the Downtown Center BID. Approximately 92% of Downtown LA survey respondents rated Trader Joe’s as the main preferred grocery store they wanted to see open downtown.

You would think Trader Joe’s would be clamoring to open in Downtown LA since the median income of residents is at $86,300, which is nothing to sneeze at. I also thought they would surely consider the location at 845 S Figueroa St because the current remodeling/upgrading of the office building would tailor the ground floor specifically to a mid-size grocery store (around 20,000 SF) and there would be onsite parking AND the location would be sandwiched by the future upscale FIGat7th shopping mall (to the north) and LA Live/Farmers Field (to the south). Perfect location in my opinion if I were choosing where to put a Trader Joe’s.

But alas, the mystery continues as to why Trader Joe’s seems to revel in some kind of sadistic pleasure at Downtown LA’s fawning and frustration over the grocery store we just can’t seem to have.

No bad news should come without good news right? Well, I spoke to reps at Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy and they are both currently looking for space downtown. Now there’s a reason to smile.

Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy are looking to open in Downtown LA


  1. Lawrence says

    Trader Joe’s is very short sighted and is losing out on a prime business opportunity. Downtown has a sizable built in population and a median income above that of Beverly Hills at this point, not to mention a weekday population of 400,000+ workers. Why they’re ignoring downtown and building more stores on the westside, which has more than it’s fair share – is beyond me. They need to cut the cocky attitude and get with the program.

  2. So…because we already shop at Trader Joes elsewhere – they won’t open up one closer to my house…because I am already showing a commitment to drive to SoPas to get my shit?

    This says to me that the other stores must be dependent on my driving there to make their profit, and if they came to me, the other stores would suffer because DTers would no longer make the drive to Pasadena.

    Sucks, but makes business sense.

    • Ginny — very good point! Perhaps they don’t know that their trade areas for So Pas and Silver Lake are somewhat inclusive (and dependent upon) the downtowners who put up with the drive! An unfortunate paradox.

  3. I think part of the problem may stem from their long history in Monrovia. They may have an old So Cal mentality about Downtown that they just can’t seem to shake. Sure, it’s fine to put a store in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but perhaps they just can’t get their head around downtown LA as a place people could live and shop in. Perhaps a regime change at the company… or the arrival of Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy — or the arrival of another 3000-4000 people in the next couple years as many new rental units come on line?

  4. I look forward to the day that Downtown’s population reaches such a critical mass that it simply cannot be ignored.

    I recall that the DCBID survey a couple years ago reported that the number one business Downtowners want to see in Downtown is a TJs. I wonder if the LACK of a TJs could be inhibiting people from relocating. A real Catch-22 for bringing another into the CBD.

  5. Chris L says

    I’m over Trader Joes anyway. They market themselves as healthy but if you look beyond the cutesy packaging its a lot of unhealthy carb-laden snack food.

    • Patrick says

      So true, Trader Joe’s is a sugar shack and a waste of plastic.

  6. Lawrence says

    ^ Chris – good point. I only buy a few things there anyway to be honest. You have to be just a concerned with checking labels on products at Trader Joe’s as you do with any other grocery store.

  7. I’m no fan of Trader Joes anyway. I like Fresh & Easy better. I stopped shopping at Trader Joes when they snubbed downtown a few years ago. That’s when I discovered Fresh & Easy … Thanks Trader Joes!

    PS – there are lots of small markets in Downtown that are also great.

  8. Raymond 3000 says

    What ever happened to the grocery store planned for that Space off of Cesar Chavez north of the 101?? I think DTLA can support 4 Whole Foods strategically placed so that they are on the peripheral points as well to reach the areas outside of the Freeway Loop. Maybe have 1 in South Park, to reach those in South Park, USC, Westlake/MacCarthur Park area, another in Historic Core on Bway (Broadway Trade Center at SW corner of 8th/Bway another one somewhere in Chinatown to reach those ppl in Echo/ Elysian Park, Silverlake, Lincoln Heights, etc. F & E is a good compromise though and also would like to see Sprouts or Henry’s also.

  9. TJ’s is owned by Aldi, not thefolks in Monrovia–the OC stores are the most profitable. That’s why they’re not downtown.

  10. Wow, i can’t believe this. The downtown LA demographic is so TJ’s. Oh well. They lose.

  11. I recently shopped at a Smart & Final Extra. I was very impressed. It was much nicer than typical Smart & Final stores. It also seems to focus on “value” more than Trader Joe’s.

    Paying more for things just because you can, is quickly going out of style.

  12. Lawrence Mann says

    As I have always said many times it’s Trader Joe’s loss, not the downtown Los Angeles city center’s loss. So why keep pushing for it. We have lots of great grocery stores that are as good of better than T.J.’s. Eventually T.J. will come to it’s senses and put a store in the downtown city center.

  13. LaTanya Rene says

    @myDTLA: I’ve actually been boycotting TJs for almost 2 years now. I shopped there once and only because it was requested of me. Otherwise, I haven’t given them my money. Downtown is the fastest-growing economy in Southern California – the proof is in the pudding with the latest DCBID Demographic Survey. We fit the profile of their clientele perfectly and still they won’t come? That’s fine, I’ll shop somewhere else. Sure, I miss certain specialty foods (their indian fare is pretty good), but I would rather shop at stores that are supportive of Downtown LA such as Fresh & Easy, Two Bits Market, the local farmers markets on the weekdays, Grand Central Market and Ray’s on Main St. I’ve definitely had to readjust a little bit but that also means I don’t have to fight traffic to Silver Lake and then fight again to get an actual parking spot. The day TJs sets up shop in downtown, I’ll happily shop there. But until then, no dice.

  14. i shop mostly a farmers markets, and pick up staples at tj’s and whole foods. even though the prices are much better at tj’s, i’ll have no problem switching solely over to whole foods for my supplemental groceries, especially if it means not driving all the way to pasadena or silver lake.

  15. Christopher says

    So when does the formal Downtown boycott of Trader Joe’s begin? Who’s going to organize it? And who’s going to publicize it? Brigham? ;-)

  16. TJ’s really won’t bring that much to the community compared to a Fresh and Easy or a Whole Foods. I go there every so often if I need a prepackaged meal or frozen bites to eat or cheap wine or nuts, but that is really it. Have you tried their produce? It’s hardly good – better stuff can be found at Grand Central Market. Whole Foods would provide a better alternative to their produce. Heck, even Raphs is better. TJ’s meats are also subpar to F&E who provide you with natural-ish meats that are juicy and delicious for a fraction of the price. Even the prepackaged meals at F&E are better because they’re fresh.
    Downtown would gain more from any of the other grocery stores who want to service our community. Why do we want a store that doesn’t want us?

  17. Steve says

    Recently, the CEO of trader joes was a guest lecturer for a class at the USC Marshall school of business. When asked directly why they didnt have a downtown location, he stated that the area did not fit their demographic profile. We have boycotted them since. I tallied up what we used to spend in a year there, $2,351.68.. Not their demographic? Their loss, many other retailers are happy to have their business.

    • Thank you for that first hand account Steve. That’s pretty sad to hear that coming from the CEO of Trader Joes. It means that the response I got from TJ’s that they don’t have DTLA in their 3-year plan is actually true.

  18. topher says

    It’s definitely exciting news to hear that wholefoods is coming to downtown….that is a great sign that downtown is finally heading towards the right direction and getting the recognition it deserves and it will only get better….still waiting for the retail aspect to really kick in.

  19. faatui panama says

    Yes…but those other places don’t have blister peanuts! They are the new crack. :-)

  20. Clark says

    I don’t like Trader Joe’s and I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s. It find it as overrated as Oprah Winfrey.
    However, I would love to know what city leaders, planners or representatives pissed off Trader Joe’s so bad that downtown LA is not in the 3-year plan. They just opened at La Cienega & Burton Way, only a couple miles from their store on Santa Monica Blvd. and their store at 3rd & La Brea. There are 7 Trader Joe’s from Silverlake to Beverly Hills.
    Somebody downtown that they dealt with has made them not want to come down here. I’d love to know the store.
    Whatever – get Whole Foods down here instead.

Comments are closed.