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I love Trader Joe’s. I love their guacamole hummus. I love their fancy cheeses. I love their faux-Polynesian flair.
And, most of all, I love their wonderful selection of beer and wine.
As such, it should come as no surprise that I wholeheartedly endorse the new grassroots effort to bring a Trader Joe’s to Turlock.
Why should we good Turlockers be forced to squander our most precious of natural resources by driving all the way to Modesto for our fix of Joe’s? Not to mention that the cost of gas easily makes my two-buck chuck into the much less appealing four-buck crunk.
Turlock is a big enough community to support a Trader Joe’s. We have 70,000 residents, many of whom are the sort of snooty college types that salivate at the thought of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.
Note, this is no dig against the snooty college types. I myself am in Trader Joe’s target, snooty college type market. I have fond memories of running into professors in my own college town’s Trader Joe’s, striking up conversations about the proper pairings of cabernet and prunes.
I’m just saying that Turlock is a surprisingly metropolitan Valley town, the sort that appreciates the finer things in Trader Joe’s. Not to mention the inexpensive wine and beer.
I have no doubt that Turlock will be able to draw a Trader Joe’s to town, with a little concerted effort. We have the open retail space, we have the population, and we have the demographics.
In fact, because I’m an overly confident sort of guy, I’m already looking beyond Trader Joe’s to pick out Turlock’s next conquest.
In my heart of hearts, I want an Ikea in Turlock. It certainly fits with our town’s Swedish heritage.
The Central Valley currently suffers from a dearth of Ikeas, with not a single store between Sacramento and Burbank. We’re centrally located enough to draw visitors from the entire Valley, and we have two universities — full of students in need of cheap furniture — within spitting distance.
Even more perfect, we have a big, beautiful patch of land south of Kohl’s that would be perfect for a lingonberry farm/Swedish furniture outlet. And it has easy highway access.
Think of the Swedish meatballs. Think of the inexpensive yet fashionable home goods. And, most importantly, think of the tax dollars and the jobs.
Of course, an Ikea may be a bit hard to attract. So I have a few other — possibly more feasible — options I’ve thought up.
A Best Buy is an easy fit for Turlock. Since Circuit City closed, our town of 70,000 has been without a dedicated electronics store.
I’d love to Try Turlock First when it comes to buying computers and TVs, but as it is I’m left driving to Modesto or Merced.
There’s a built in, ready market here in Turlock, and we’re easily big enough to sustain a Best Buy if Riverbank is. Plus we have available retail space, with the old OfficeMax or Circuit City space a perfect size for a new Best Buy.
Another gimme, if you ask me, is a Toys ’R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, Kids ‘R’ Us megastore. At least if the sheer quantity of rug rats I see running around is any indicator.
Turlock toy shopping is limited to Target and Walmart, both of which have somewhat limited selections. The same goes for child and baby good shopping.
There are no Toys ‘R’ Us stores between Modesto and Fresno. Again, we’re centrally located enough to draw visitors from as far south as Merced, easily.
And, again, have you walked down the street recently? Have you seen how many stroller-bound Turlockers there are? I frequently feel like I’m over the rainbow with all the munchkins I see around here.
Lastly, in perhaps my most realistic dream of a new Turlock retailer, I think Turlock needs an Old Navy.
We’re the perfect market. Absolutely dead-on perfect.
We have the nearby colleges full of thrifty-yet-fashionable folks. We have available retail space, sited near a freeway exit.
And, perhaps most importantly, there isn’t an Old Navy between Manteca and Fresno. Central Valley people are the sort of people that Old Navy was made for, and it’s frankly unconscionable that we don’t have a nearby store.
I know that the Trader Joe’s supporters stood outside the Modesto store wearing Hawaiian shirts — but inexplicably holding no signs explaining why they were there — in efforts to attract the retailer to town. I’d be more than willing to organize an expedition of performance fleece-clad Turlockers to Manteca to make our case.
And I think a good case can be made for our community in bringing all of these retailers to town. I don’t think it’s a pick-and-choose sort of situation; we have available space, we have a great location, and we have a need for the goods these retailers provide.
I’m not sure we’ll be successful in securing these five major retailers, but I think it’s worth a shot. And I think with a little concerted community effort, we have a good shot of bringing them all to town.
And I’m sure that if Turlock had a Best Buy, an Ikea, a Toys ‘R’ Us, an Old Navy, and a Trader Joe’s, each one of those stores would be an unmitigated success.
For more information on bringing Trader Joe’s to Turlock, visit
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail, call 634-9141 ext. 2005, or build a spiffy new store and invite him to the grand opening.