Trader Joe’s is consistently finding success with its unconventional approach to operating as a grocer. It’s literally breaking down barriers with its growth strategy, recently winning an exemption from San Francisco’s ban on chain stores. According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, a Trader Joe’s in Hayes Valley was approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors. This ban, the news source noted, is meant to prohibit what the city deems “format retailers” from moving in on smaller, locally-owned shops.
“The sameness of formula retail outlets, while providing clear branding for consumers, counters the general direction of certain land use controls and general plan policies, which value unique community character and therefore need controls, in certain areas, to maintain neighborhood individuality,” the Planning Department’s website stated.
San Francisco’s Planning Code notes that these formula retail chains are any establishment with 11 or more locations currently in operation. Given that Trader Joe’s—with its 488+ store units—definitely fits the bill, the question remained how it received an exemption from the ban.
“Hayes Valley is a thriving shopping district, but people forget that the median household income on the north side of Fulton is $24,041, and over one-third of the residents that live there live below the poverty line,” Supervisor Vallie Brown, whose district includes Hayes Valley, told the Chronicle. “It’s important to bring in a grocery store that’s affordable and offers fresh, organic food.”
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