Home Political News Lexington Trader Joe’s Provides Insight for downtown Evansville’s Hopes

Lexington Trader Joe’s Provides Insight for downtown Evansville’s Hopes



Downtown Evansville has long been hoping for an upscale grocery store to supplement the entertainment related entities that have gotten incentives to locate there.  The two stores most desirable have in the past been deemed to be Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  With stringent criteria on population withing drive time, education of populace, and high visibility the prospects of one of these stores choosing downtown Evansville is very remote.  Quite frankly Evansville was closer to meeting the criteria in 1960 than it is today.

Lexington, Kentucky that was smaller and demographically similar to Evansville in 1960 recently saw a Trader Joe’s open.  Of course Lexington during the last 50 years has grown from 60,000 people to roughly 300,000 and it’s percentage of educated people in the population has grown continuously to a current level of 39.3%.  Vanderburgh County according to the census department is now at 21.9% with the City of Evansville having only a 17.9% rate of residents with bachelor’s degrees.

It is to be noted that the location of the new Trader Joe’s in Lexington is not in downtown Lexington that has cast its lot with Rupp Arena, hotels, and bars but is within walking distance of the UK campus.

Perhaps something can be learned from Lexington’s growth during the last 50 years.


Republished from Kentucky.com article in June 2012

After years of hopes followed by months of anticipation, Trader Joe’s will open a Lexington store at 8 a.m. Friday.

The gourmet grocery, on the former site of Joe’s Crab Shack at 2326 Nicholasville Road, is expected to be wildly popular, and those unfamiliar are in for a unique shopping trip, industry observers say.

“Walking into a Trader Joe’s is an experience, … because you don’t know what you’re going to come across,” said Mark Mallinger, a Pepperdine University professor who has followed the privately held company for years. “New products come and go.

“They’re just unique.”

Many Lexington residents hoped the chain would arrive years and years ago. Mallinger said the Monrovia, Calif.-based company, which has more than 370 stores nationwide, is “very cautious about the locations they select.”

Before Friday, the closest Trader Joe’s stores were in Cincinnati and Louisville.

Trader Joe’s spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki declined to disclose the selection process, saying only “that Lexington is filled with foodies and seems a great fit for us.”

“We consider ourselves the neighborhood grocery store and feel the Lexington location is a great fit,” she said.

Mallinger said his tracking of the company reveals three criteria for site selection:

Dense population: Trader Joe’s puts stores in areas with large surrounding populations. With its many nearby neighborhoods, Nicholasville Road was a good fit for that criteria, said Lexington commercial real estate broker Tim Haymaker of Haymaker/Bean Commercial Real Estate. Its location closer to downtown rather than near Man o’ War Boulevard is “a win for the city,” said Chris King, director of planning for Lexington city government, because it helps redevelop an existing corridor.

Highly educated population: “What they’ve discovered is those who are more educated tend to travel more, and those who travel more tend to be more adventuresome in their food and drink choices,” Mallinger said. As the home of the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and several other colleges, Lexington has a high percentage of residents with college and graduate-level educations.

Easy distribution: Mallinger said Trader Joe’s differs from major supermarkets that have their own distribution warehouses and trucking operations.

“They are strictly a retail grocery store,” he said. Suppliers send the merchandise directly to the stores.

Overall, the Trader Joe’s business model is unique, Mallinger said.

“Compared to a supermarket that has maybe 35,000 items, they have maybe 2,500,” he said.

They’re also small by comparison. Lexington’s Trader Joe’s grocery will be 12,000 square feet with an adjacent wine shop that is 3,000 square feet. By comparison, the Kroger on Tates Creek Road is 59,000 square feet and is being expanded to 92,000 square feet.

“Trader Joe’s is a national chain of neighborhood specialty grocery stores,” Mallinger said. “If you really deeply understand that one sentence, you understand Trader Joe’s.

“They want to be a national chain of mom-and-pops. That’s what it’s saying.”

That’s why, he said, you won’t empty your own cart when you chat with the cashier, who unloads it for you.

It’s also why you won’t see advertisements for them in publications; Trader Joe’s mails newsletters, called The Fearless Flyer, describing products.

What else is unique?

There aren’t sales, and products tend to change quickly.

Since “we introduce 10 to 15 new products a week, we have to eliminate 10 to 15 items in order to give our newest items a fair chance,” the company says on its Web site.

Employees often wear Hawaiian shirts to emphasize that they’re “traders on the culinary seas,” according to the site.

So will the company’s success in Lexington be as wild as its employees’ dress?

Observers say yes.

“It will do phenomenally well in Lexington,” said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group in New York. “It will really rock the market.”

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/06/28/2241801/lexingtons-trader-joes-opens-friday.html#storylink=cpy


  1. My senior year I lived literally one block from this location on Nicholasville Rd. I drove by it last week when I was in town for the championship game, it looks great. I’m happy for the area. It’s not the quote un-quote downtown but it’s certainly within the core, probably about 4 blocks from UK and downtown.

    The density from the urban growth boundary around New Circle Road has been tremendous and has certainly changed the way I view growth. Yes, it has been compromised to Man O’ War but all in all it’s held up and it’s something we need here.

    Thanks for sharing CCO. Now take a look at their new canal they’re getting to build right down the middle of town and past a renovated Rupp and through the middle of their convention center. Just speechless…


    • @Rails; One of our regulars on the Clean Water Innovation System we are working forward is somewhat interested in something we’ve got for “that canal exposure project”.
      If she can get to’em in time we think shes got one hell’va concept actuality with that type of project. This Lady is not an local at all, Shes actually connected with a design group from Denmark. Her take on that thing is amazing. Unfortunately for some,in a confidence agreement with us, as well.
      That insight and application is a given though,where she’s involved in the EU water systems have no givens. Sea level rise is a constant forward design function. You know as she explained her Ideation to us,the first thing that popped up with us was a suburban canal project down in Florida we are checking in on. Geez,we’d have to design for Manatees and they’re living pathways with that one too.
      We’re in process orientated towards useful functionality multiplies with urban canal reinventions.
      Sustainable Stream Balancing,multiples so to speak. I know yourself a sprawl combatant wouldn’t like to hear this, but if in fact, the east side was to have been the site for the campus development the concepts we have would give that area a unique functionality feature while solving some other more serious and costly problems associated with those types of outer metro layer additional,s.

      The old Wabash Erie,route has crossed my mind once or twice,however if I was to propose a Sustainable Stream Balancing Multiple* for Evansville’s urban core I don’t think that total old route would be acceptable,a section where in fact it counts the most for multiple functionality,and with her application inputs could be very doable,you see the daily tidal flows in the coastal regions are the challenging aspects of useful purposing. Your system must deal with river levels which falls right in per that application. Her system while wholly innovative isn’t new at all,its been under utilized due its mechanical viability given reliability per some natural cycles.
      Well not any more,the system we’ve developed solves that by process timing of the multiples and some advanced control technologies. Basically thermodynamic geophysical laws. Including basic however very unique,climate change hydrology.

      On top of all that it’ll look,smell,and “sound” real nice to ones natural senses,as well. A real nice place to walk,ride or just, sit and listen.

  2. Quite frankly Evansville was closer to meeting the criteria in 1960 than it is today.

    That should tell you a great deal about what is totally misguided with the city and county management. To be less qualified (for a lack of better words) 54 years later is huge slam against the abysmal political leadership of Evansville, yeah that includes all you Republicans and Democrats. Of all the tens of millions (probably more like a couple of hundred million plus) spent since 1960 what do we have to show? Not a hell of a lot that is for sure. Now under which rock did I put that budget?

    • Ford Center: $127 Million
      Centre: $40 Million
      Central Library: $35 Million
      Victory Theatre: $25 Million
      Johnson Controls: $43 Million
      Hotel: $71 Million
      Med School: $85 Million
      Innovation Pointe: $5 Million
      ONB & Vectren: over $100 Million
      Lofts: $25 Million
      Change direction of Main Street: $5 Million
      Riverfront Esplanade: $30 Million
      Museum Annex: $11 Million
      EVSC Offices: $8 Million
      AIG Offices: $40 Million
      McCurdy Losses: roughly $2 Million

      Total in recent history and near future: $652 Million+ EXCLUDING INTEREST ON THE BONDS. I didn’t even bother with the under a million stuff and there is lots of it.

      What has that gotten us in the big picture of staying competitive nationally? I didn’t even add in the Casino and the District. Adding those in we may well be at a Billion dollars tossed at the downtown already. There are of course still over 30 storefronts with “available” signs in the window as there has been since my first count in 1999.

        • Oh, I’m sure they have collected more than a dime in incremental property taxes from ONB and Vectren but the other projects actually keep on taking. The numbers I published do not include operating expenses that require additional ongoing taxpayer support. My numbers are for the initial bricks and mortar. I also would not be surprised if the total political contributions coming back to the powers that be from the cast of contractors is well over $30 Million. The money trail on such things is like that enthalpic closed loop system you enjoy posting about. Where is the missing entropy of the political process?

        • I don’t think it really matters if those things listed by the editor did make a dime. If all that investment over the past fifty plus years has not make Evansville a potential candidate for a Traders Joe then the citizens got royally screwed.

      • Thanks editor, I was hoping someone would slog through some of that for me. The thought of knowing even if it is a ballpark (no pun intended) figure would have been depressing. Wasn’t really expecting it to be north of a half a billion dollars. That makes it even more outrageous to see the fiduciary irresponsibility of present and past administrations summed.

        Indeed, by the time it is said and done after interest is considered it may well be at the billion dollar mark. I take it one of the paltry sums you omitted was the must haves like Earthcare.

        I think those things you found clearly supports the notion of those opposing throwing more money at downtown are right. Particularly with 30 empty storefronts for 15 years. Frankly in my opinion Evansville is a lost cause.

        Instead of forging ahead with these newly decided on projects and who knows what they want to do next, the focus should be on digging the city out of debt. But I know that won’t happen because there are far to many progressives and liberals fully convinced adding more debt is the way to get out of debt and boosting the local economy.

      • Yeah but Carol, Kelley et al will be able to enjoy their steak and salmon, microbrews and cosmopolitans, from the top of their Hotel and look down on the projects….
        and cheer progress.

  3. Johnson Controls is a water dept project not a downtown development issue. The museum, as badly as it was handled, is a mostly private venture. Same thing with Springleaf, ONB, and Vectren although Vectren was a landswap which gave us Goebel which we found out this month is the gift that just keeps on giving.

    Even if all of that was strictly government financed it still doesn’t even come close to ONE I-69 BRIDGE which was deemed costly but doable on here. Not to mention the 41/I-164 junction was the most expensive interchange in the state at the time.

    Looking at the east side, it’s the same story…

    I-69 (Billions but I’ll omit since it’s state wide). This thing is a complete waste of money

    Green River Road widening- $26 mil and still not fixed

    Ball fields- $ 15.5 mil

    Swonder- ? (Anyone know the cost for this?)

    Roberts Stadium Demolition for a Phantom Park- $773k plus salvage plus whatever said phantom park costs (up to $8 mil)

    If you strike the private developments from the list above and you don’t count the hotel and med school since they have yet to get a REAL shovel in the ground, it’s basically been several hundred mil vs several hundred mil. The only thing that tips the scale to downtown was the fact that one facility, the arena, took up most of the costs.

    I break it down this way….

    – $5 mil road change > $26 mil green river road expansion

    – Ford Center Construction > Roberts Stadium destruction

    – Already existing Kleymeyer Park > Shelling out $1.1/1.3 mil just for the land next to Goebel

    – Building Vectren on the riverfront > Building in the boondocks which would have required an untold amount of infrastructure and gov’t services expansion. We’re seeing the green river road project illustrate that to a T.

    I agree that what the city spent their money on and HOW they spent it i.e how & where they are building projects is flat out despicable. The hotel is too expensive, the med school is too expensive and on wrong lot, same with the ball fields, the riverfront has been a complete failure, and most of the master plan is still sitting on the shelf.

    But to say the east side, which is now nothing but unsustainable sprawl that has no doubt driven up government budget(s), caused obesity, as well as many other negative things, is a rosier picture than downtown just isn’t true.1

    • The east side is the site of commerce and residential development, which makes it a much “rosier picture”, but the truth is that it is all doomed unless Evansville can grow a lot of jobs, rather quickly.
      That probably won’t happen, but adequate job growth isn’t going to happen downtown.

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