By Graham Sweeney
After years of speculation and planning the city welcomed West Tennessee’s first Trader Joe’s last month to considerable fanfare.
Mayor Mike Palazzolo called the franchise’s decision to open in Germantown a “great compliment to the community.”
“Germantown is a community of choice.,” he said. “People want to be in this community, whether its Trader Joe’s or the Apple Store. Keeping one-of-a-kind retailers will keep us sharp, as far as retailers go.”
Brian White, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Germantown Chamber of Commerce, said the city, which is also now home to two Whole Foods, two Kroger Grocery Stores and a Sprouts Farmers Market, is currently a hub for “grocery store tourism.”
“We’ve got every available option to shop today,” he said. “We’ve got lots of options and I’m grateful that they developed our city that way.”
The new Trader Joe’s is located in the Germantown Collection mixed-use center at 2130 Exeter Road in the former Kroger site.
Late last year, Bayer Properties, the Birmingham-based commercial real estate firm responsible for leasing and managing the center, made a move that would set the stage for a new wave of retail.
A redevelopment of the space has transformed it into three new storefronts, increasing gross leasable space and creating opportunity to bring new concepts to the market.
“The relocation of the previous grocer tenant allowed us to transform the large space into three smaller storefronts, providing an opportunity to maximize tenant occupancy and bring new specialty retailers to the area,” said Libby Lassiter, EVP of Leasing and Development at Bayer Properties. “We are thrilled to welcome the first Trader Joe’s to the area and look forward to announcing more exciting tenants that will cater to the area.”
The redevelopment converted the original 60,261-square-foot space into 46,102 square feet of gross leasable space, with an additional 14,000 square feet of unoccupied common area space behind the building that will allow tenants easy delivery access.
Bayer Properties also built an adjacent 7,000-square-foot outparcel that will house Chicken Salad Chick, a fast-casual chain of chicken restaurants based in Auburn, Ala. The new dining destination is expected to open in November 2018.
A $750,000 building permit application was filed in January to construct the grocery chain in Germantown.
Wicker Park Capital Management purchased the property for $8.1 million last December. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen then approved a development contract for Wicker Park, d.b.a. 2130 Exeter Holdings LLC.
The site was originally approved by the Planning Commission as Farmington Shopping Center in 1986.
The name of the development was then changed to Germantown Collection.
The property was rezoned from the Shopping Center District to Urban Center District as part of the Germantown Smart Growth Plan in 2007.
Trader Joe’s started as a small chain of California convenience stores in the 1950s.
By the late 1960s, the stores were made bigger and the chain’s aesthetic of cedar plank walls was implemented. Employees began wearing Hawaiian shirts and the store began packaging “innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods under the ‘Trader Joe’s’ name.”
In an effort to cut costs, the stores buy in bulk directly from suppliers whenever possible. They also avoid “suppliers fees” by stocking their own shelves. Some of Trader Joe’s signature foods include; Mandarin Orange Chicken, the Almond Kringle, Spiced Cider, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Unexpected Cheddar, Cold Brew Concentrate, Spanakopita and Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s.
Germantown’s store location is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.