PORTLAND, Ore., February 7, 2014– According to local media outlet, The Oregonian (Highlighted by the Associated Press), African American activists and politicians forced the Trader Joe’s grocery chain to drop their plans for a new store in a predominately black community because the store would “increase the desirability of the neighborhood,” for “non-oppressed populations.”
“We run neighborhood stores, and our approach is simple,” said the grocery chain. “If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question.”
The Portland Development Commission offered a substantial discount to the grocery chain for a two acre parcel of land that appraised for $2.9 million. The land, which sat undeveloped for years, was offered to the chain for $500,000 in an attempt to bring high paying jobs and prosperity to the neighborhood. The construction project, which was to include a two large anchor buildings and 10 retail shops, was promised to an African American owned construction company.
The Portland African American Leadership Forum, along with the Mayor Charlie Hales, sent letters to Portland Development Commission citing that they were “contributing to the destructive impact of gentrification and displacement of the African American community.” They also said that they would remain opposed to all development of the land that doesn’t primarily benefit African Americans.
Hales did concede that he felt the Trader Joe’s could be a good fit, but other leaders weren’t budging.
The grocery chain is based out of California and regularly makes headlines for their revolutionary business model that brings discount health-foods and products to neighborhoods. Also, the chain is continuously praised as one of the highest paying grocers in the world. New employees start out at $10-20/hr., supervisors make $45k-75k/yr. and store managers bring in six-figure salaries. Also, the company makes regular contributions to employee 401k accounts.