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Since You Asked: Joe's just not that into us

Please help in our quest for a Trader Joe's! OK, everyone ... if we start an e-mail chain, and you send this to everyone on your address list, and they send it to everyone on their address list ... and everybody clicks on the link below and inputs their request for a store in Medford ... well, we just might get one then! Apparently, this is how Bend managed to get theirs, which is under construction right now. Click on

www.traderjoes.com/location_requests_form.aspx

- Several e-mails

probably still zipping

across the Rogue Valley

It really hurts when you live in a great place apparently invisible to an operation that has "more than 280 stores in more than 23 states," including eight in Oregon, but none of them south of Eugene. There's a price you pay for being a wallflower.

Here's the bad news, just to get it out (remember, we're just the messenger): Joe's dance card is already filled with far better prospects, Medford. It's nothing personal, you understand, Joe really likes you. He does. I mean, he really does. It's just, well, he's just not that into you.

What's Trader Joe's, you ask? It's just a really groovy grocery store (traderjoes.com) with interesting products at reasonable prices and diehard fans. Oh, and the staff wear Hawaiian shirts and are adept at using the word "dude" in a greeting, exclamation, affirmation, query or expression of uncertainty or fear.

The problem with such a unique store is that it needs a large customer base of people who have a lot of money. Joe's isn't a place to do your WIC shopping. And that brings us to our expert source, Sam Fung, CCIM.

Fung is an expert in commercial real estate who worked on getting Amy's Kitchen a suitable manufacturing site in White City. And he's spoken directly with the Trader Joe's folks trying to woo them here. And he's speaking to them again in March. So this is almost from the horse's mouth.

Long story short, Medford is on Trader Joe's radar, but off its map. Fung said the company is building about 12 new stores this year and there are a whole lot of unserved locations left with far better demographics (population density, per capita income, etc.) than Medford. For a store to succeed, TJ's needs a lot of people who have a lot of disposable money and who live nearby.

So Medford's got some work to do before it gets there, and Fung suggests working to bring other good-paying employers to the valley to help create that Trader Joe's demographic.

One point in this Trader Joe's request that several people, including Fung, have brought up is that if there was the broad-based Trader Joe's energy behind the faltered Medford Market Co-op effort, we'd be pushing carts down downtown aisles already. And a community showing avid support for something like that could be money in the bank for a possible future date with Trader Joe's. For more on the Medford Market Co-op, visit medfordmarket.org online.

youasked@mailtribune.com.