The New Kid In Town


Elyssa Huff, Writer

     It’s real. It’s official. Trader Joe’s is coming to Fort Wayne.  

     What Fort Waynians have desired for a long time (as seen with the Facebook page “Fort Wayne wants a Trader Joe’s!”) is finally coming to fruition. The chain, millennial-popular grocery store will now have a place in Jefferson Point, around the already famed Panera and Chick-fil-A. It marks a moment in Fort Wayne’s growing millennial relevancy, in which more events and opportunities are targeted toward a younger demographic. 

     The coming of Trader Joe’s is set to have resounding effects on the people of Fort Wayne. Students of Homestead are eagerly anticipating its arrival.

     “I’m really excited for the new Trader Joe’s,” Ben Burkle (12) said. “I love Kroger, but it’s so expensive, and sometimes it’s good to have an alternative grocery store to go to whenever I need something special.”

     While Trader Joe’s may be new in Fort Wayne, some students have already had exposure to the store in the past. 

     “I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so my family and I have been going since I can remember. We would have to stockpile our Trader Joe’s goods from the Indy store and ration them until our next trip,” Sophia Barton (12) said. “If I was asked what I wanted most in Fort Wayne, this would be it.”

     A major part of any store’s moving in is its chosen location, and the new Trader Joe’s location isn’t without controversy. While Jefferson Point is a popular shopping location, especially with younger groups of people, it still has a lot of issues. Even the unobservant shopper may have noticed the slow decline of stores, as more and more leave the mall. 

     “My grandma used to own a store [at Jefferson Point], so I know a big problem there is the really high rent. Many stores, especially the smaller ones, simply cannot afford to stay there. I think losing another store could really put the mall in jeopardy, like losing Von Maur. I’m hoping Trader Joe’s will give the mall the boost it needs and draw more stores in,” Barton said. 

     It’s even more significant for it to be in the Southwest side of Fort Wayne, an area that is historically conservative and slow to progress in businesses. 

     “It’s clear that Fort Wayne, specifically Southwest Allen County, is growing more quickly than it once was,” Burkle said. “[Trader Joe’s] is a huge stepping stone for future growth and opportunity in the area, because it means that national chains are taking an interest in Fort Wayne.”

     With its location in the suburbs, it’s sure to have special appeal for families and their children. 

It’s super fun for kids; they hide a stuffed animal everyday and if you spot it, you get a prize. Every location’s animal is different so I’m curious to see what our mascot will be,” Barton said.

     While grocery stores may be inherently targeted toward an older audience, Trader Joe’s seems to be the exception to this rule. In 2018, nearly 20% of its shoppers were between the ages of 18 and 29. While this may seem like a small share, this is significantly larger than the age ranges of other grocery stores. With its low-priced, typically healthy products, this can come as no surprise. 

     “I think it will be more popular with younger audiences, because it has really well-sourced food for low prices. It’s easy to shop, and a lot of their foods are more popular with millennials,” Barton said.

     In 2020, expectations for the incoming store are high. However, students are hopeful that Trader Joe’s will be able to fulfill them and thrive in its new location. 

     “I used to always go on the website and put in a request for a Trader Joe’s in our city,” Barton said. “I really think it will thrive here with its great prices and easy shopability. I know that I’ll definitely be going there pretty often.”
    It may seem ridiculous, but perhaps the arrival of Trader Joe’s could be a true diamond for Fort Wayne and its economy. 

     “I’m so excited for it to come, but I’m also sad that I’ll be moving in a year and will not be able to enjoy it for longer,” Barton said. “I can’t wait for others to be able to discover the little gem I’ve been going to all my life.”