The roof caves in on Trader Joe’s
Last weekend’s blizzard presented plenty of challenges for retailers in this part of New Jersey after dropping more than two feet of snow on the area. It was particularly tough on Trader Joe’s in Westfield, which had its roof collapse under the weight of the snow.
Following the collapse, Westfield officials said the building would have to be razed as three walls were compromised along with the roof.
Locals, based on numerous discussions, are taking it hard. Not only will they need to travel further to reach the next-closest Trader Joe’s, they will miss the people who work at the Westfield store. There is also the wine. You see, the Westfield Trader Joe’s is one of the few in the state (and the only one nearby) that sells beer and wine.
Initially, many locals were concerned that Trader Joe’s might move out of Westfield altogether since it is bound to take a long time to clear the existing building and erect a new one. Trader Joe’s put those concerned at ease with a statement that the company intended to rebuild and reopen the store and would update locals once it had a “realistic timeframe” for completing the job. The real concern expressed by locals shows that, while there are many ways to build loyalty with customers, few do it as successfully as Trader Joe’s.
The most deeply affected by the roof collapse were the approximately 160 full- and part-time employees at the Westfield store. Trader Joe’s has pledged to work with interested employees to help them find work at its other locations.
- Westfield, NJ – Location Closed for Repairs – Trader Joe’s
- Westfield Trader Joe’s ‘In Bad Shape,’ Likely to be Demolished, Head of DPW Says – TAPinto.net
- Trader Joe’s Says It Will Reopen in Westfield Location – TAPinto.net
What are the best approaches for retailers when dealing with customers and employees following catastrophic events such as that experienced by the Trader Joe’s in Westfield, NJ? How would you rate Trader Joe’s response in this instance?
Join the Discussion!
6 Comments on "The roof caves in on Trader Joe’s"
You must be logged in to post a comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Customers have already adjusted. When I visited Whole Foods approximately three miles away yesterday, someone I know in CS said they’ve already had a noticeable uptick in traffic for two days.
Snow, flood, hurricane, tornado, these things happen to retailers and the customers they serve. Short of grabbing a vacant storefront (there is an empty supermarket about three to four miles away), there’s not much they can do for customers without pivoting and ramping up a BOPUS-type service.
For employees, the company is far profitable enough to pay their wages until the store is replaced, as a gesture of corporate goodwill if they so choose, or hire a recruiting firm to get them other work.
We’ve been shopping at the Westfield Trader Joe’s since it opened more than a decade ago, so it’s no surprise that my wife is already complaining about having to shop the store up in Milburn.
Trader Joe’s is doing a good job responding to the crisis, but the hard work for them is still to come. They have options — there is a former Pathmark about two miles away and a former A&P about four miles away, both left vacant due to the bankruptcy. Those vacancies have created a boom for the remaining food retailers in the area, including Trader Joe’s which was constantly busy even during non-prime shopping hours. If they don’t re-open quickly — three or four months tops — they run the risk of losing those gains and more, especially if another retailer, maybe Lidl, opens in one of the former A&P sites.
I think Trader Joe’s did the best they could with a nasty situation. They sympathized with consumers, directed them to the nearest store and are working with employees to find jobs at other locations. Let’s face it, this is a lose-lose-lose situation for the company, consumers and employees.
It is Trader Joe’s job to have work days. Stay where the store is. Build a new one but have customers and employees help build the new store. Great marketing opportunity and a good community awareness move. Leverage the new store and the storm as a marketing opportunity. Get the employees that have talents in construction on the job and shift others to nearby stores. Give them all an extra few days off to adjust.
If Trader Joe’s can grab a vacant storefront and set up a temporary shop, it would be a monstrous win-win for everyone — customers and staff and Trader Joe’s alike.
Considering that any spotlight is a PR opportunity, TJ’s immediate response struck me as anemic and uncreative.
I’d like to think TJ’s will be able to re-open in Westfield very quickly (even if only in temporary, less than perfect quarters). As Ron M. pointed out, there are apparently a plethora of vacant grocery stores around in the area as there are across the country. This would reinforce the commitment to both the community and to TJ’s customers there while a brand new store is being constructed to TJ’s specifications.