When it comes to a Salem Trader Joe's, it sure looks like The Who was right: "Won't be fooled again." Every sign, including the one below that I took a photo of this afternoon, points to Trader Joe's opening a store on south Commercial Street.
So even though we Salemites were fooled by the Trader Joe's false alarm in June, when the Statesman Journal had a front page story about an apparent store opening at Keizer Station in north Salem that turned out to be wrong, this time the evidence is much stronger.
I was alerted to this marvelous bit of news (my wife and I are health-conscious vegetarians who run wild through the aisles when we shop at Trader Joe's in Portland) by another front page Statesman Journal story today, Thursday.
But so far as I can tell, Gino, a KATU news cameraman who covers the Salem area, was the first to break the story in a Wednesday blog post.
In a follow-up post this morning Gino said KATU will have info on a Salem Trader Joe's tonight. But I taped the late afternoon/early evening news on Channel 2 and didn't see any mention of this story.
I did some of my own investigating, though.
After emailing an OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) staffer who wrote back that she works in Portland, and I needed to contact the Salem office, I left a message with the local folks asking for a call-back confirmation that the Trader Joe's OLCC application was for real.
While I was out shopping -- not at Trader Joe's, sadly -- Carol left a message saying, yes, Trader Joe's had indeed submitted an application for a site on south Commercial Street. Joy!
An online update to the first Statesman Journal story shows the Trader Joe's application, noting:
Trader Joe’s has told the Oregon Liquor Control Commission that it could open a South Salem store by next year.
“What I do know is that they plan to be open, tentatively, by 2011. I don’t have the exact date,” Shari Dougherty, an investigator with the OLCC, said today in a telephone interview.
An OLCC notice has been posted on the door of the former Albertson’s grocery store at 4450 Commercial St. SE indicating that Trader Joe’s has applied for a liquor license for that location.
Under OLCC rules, the state cannot accept a license application unless the applicant can show it has access to the property. The proof can be a draft lease agreement, an executed lease, or a purchase agreement.
Trader Joe’s has provided documentation showing it has access to the building, Dougherty said, but state rules prevented her from being more specific.
This is great news for Salem, which shows how lacking in other great news Oregon's capital city is. Portland, Eugene, Bend, and -- irritatingly -- much smaller nearby town Corvallis, already have one or more Trader Joe's.
We're a cultural, shopping, and entertainment backwater compared to the cooler, hipper cities to our north and south. But at least now we Salemites have one less reason to feel inferior.
There are lots of comments on the Statesman Journal stories, which shows how much interest there is in a Salem Trader Joe's. The Commercial Street store is going to do great business, for sure. Since we live in south Salem, my wife and I will be shopping there a lot.
I scanned the reader comments for any additional evidence that Trader Joe's coming to town is absolutely for real. This was the only one I could find, but it has a pleasing ring of truth:
I don't know anything about the validity of the OLCC sign on the old Albertson's store, that indicates that Trader Joes is applying for a liquor license.
But I will tell you that I heard from a very reliable source some time back that Trader Joes was indeed going to locate a store in the old Albertson's store. I'm involved in a neighborhood association and the City did send out a site plan review and proposed zoning adjustment to divide the old Albertson's store into two separate pieces.
One is 13,506 sq. feet and the other one is 25,925 sq. feet. The smaller of the two is on the north end of the store and that is the one that has the old loading dock for Albertson's. That would be about the right size for a TJ's since they do not require a big footprint. The zoning adjustment was approved by the City on Septemeber 1, subject to some minor requirements that can be easily met. Mountain West Investment Corporation is the one doing the development.
The old Albertson's store looks like a great location for Trader Joe's. Call it wishful thinking, but when I took the photo below today, I could almost feel a Trader Joe's vibe while standing on the asphalt. My visualizations paid off! (along with those of many others)