Downtown LA: We Want Trader Joe's!

Angelyne shops at Trader Joe's in West Hollywood.
Angelyne shops at Trader Joe's in West Hollywood.

You know who likes shopping at Trader Joe's? Angelyne. You know who else would really, really, really, really like to do the same thing? Residents of downtown Los Angeles.

Tracking the hopes, dreams, fears and practical commercial concerns of DTLA dwellers, the 2011 Downtown LA Demographic study (PDF available here) reveals that a whopping "92% of downtown residents said they were highly likely to shop in a downtown Trader Joe's should one locate here." That makes Trader Joe's the single most desired retail establishment among downtown Angelenos. By comparison, 65% of survey respondents want more mid-level restaurants, 60% want a mid-level department store and only 41% want a discount store (though survey producers believe that's because the planned downtown Target has blunted demand for additional big-box stores.)

If they have their way, they could soon be like Angelyne a.k.a. The Pink Wonder, fully decked it out in Pepto pink "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" attire, perusing the aisles of Trader Joe's for roasted seaweed snacks. (Tasty and low-cal.)

The first Trader Joe's was opened in 1967 in Pasadena by Joe Coulombe. The chain, which now has over 350 stores, was bought in 1979 by German supermarket chain Aldi Nord. It is privately held in a family trust set up by Aldi Nord's former CEO, Theo Albrecht. Before he died in 2010, the reclusive German billionaire was estimated by Forbes to be the 31st richest person in the world.

Trader Joe's has its own rigid and secret formula, no doubt based on demographics such as neighborhood density, affluence and cost-per-square-foot of business space. Unsurprisingly, these standards lean heavily toward serving suburban markets. Will the insular Alberecht trust ever hear the pleas of downtown residents? Maybe when they have enough money and influence.

Other vital nuggets in the survey, which was produced by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District:

  • Downtown residents ate nearly eight lunches out per month and spent a median of $14.60 per person.
  • Downtown residents ate nearly four dinners out per month and spent a median of $29 per person.
  • Downtown residents' median age was 32.5.
  • Their reported overall median household income was $86,300.

So they're a youngish, affluent, professional bunch just itching for a Trader Joe's to deliver them beef flautas and Two Buck Chuck and chocolate-dipped, candy cane-crusted Joe-Joes.

[@elinashatkin /]

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