Trader Joe’s, open in Riverdale, please

Upscale grocer has, so far, ignored neighbors’ online entreaties

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Riverdale wants a Trader Joe’s, but does Trader Joe’s want Riverdale?

No. At least, not yet.

An email has circulated throughout North Riverdale in recent weeks calling on locals to fill out a form on the supermarket chain’s website requesting the grocery chain open a new store in the area. Specifically, the email called for people to request Trader Joe’s replace the Key Foods at 5661 Riverdale Ave. The email’s apparent author, Giordana Avila, declined to comment on her push.

“We have learned that Trader Joe’s is actively seeking new supermarket locations around the city, including (the) Riverdale area,” Avila wrote. “We are hoping to inundate Trader Joe’s with our requests over the next two weeks, and let them know we would welcome them to our neighborhood!”

Trader Joe’s is not looking at Riverdale as a possible expansion location for 2019 or 2020, spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said. While the chain takes community interest into consideration, there are other factors that could affect how locations are selected, including accessibility, visibility, parking and building square footage. They also take into account competing stores in the vicinity, and whether there is enough of a shopping population to support a store location.

“We’re always looking for new locations that would be a great fit, and are currently working to open stores in a number of new locations,” Friend-Daniel said. The East Village is one city neighborhood that will get a Trader Joe’s in 2019. Unfortunately for Riverdale, the Bronx does not figure into Trader Joe’s plans for 2019 or 2020.

Trade magazine Supermarket News estimates Trader Joe’s earned $13 billion in revenue in 2015. To make that kind of bank, each of Trader Joe’s 474 stores would have to earn an average of $75,000 a day — a hefty sum for North Riverdale.

Trader Joe’s has no presence in the Bronx, although its sister chain Aldi has three grocery stores in the borough, including one at 5322 Broadway.

Despite Trader Joe’s lack of interest, community leaders and even local real estate practitioners are pushing to make it a reality. Braun Management, which oversees the Skyview Shopping Center in North Riverdale, has already tried to convince Trader Joe’s to move into its center after what’s been said to be years of disputes with it’s current occupant, Key Food.

“We’ve been in contact with them several times, and they’ve never sustained any interest,” Mendy Braun, a vice president with the management company, said in an email.

Jennifer Bader lives in North Riverdale, but drives to Eastchester or into the city to do her grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s once a week. She was thrilled to hear of the push to get a Trader Joe’s, particularly if it meant replacing the Key Foods in the Skyview Shopping Center.

“It’s pretty gross inside,” Bader said. If she’s shopping in the neighborhood, Bader will only get non-perishables at Key Food and patronize Riverdale Kosher Market for produce. But there are specific items she can only get at Trader Joe’s — her children’s favorite pasta sauce, for example.

“It just would be nice to have the things I use in my daily life in Riverdale,” Bader said.

Vicki Green believes a Trader Joe’s would make a “wonderful addition to the community.” While there are locations within driving distance, Green — a Realtor with Halstead who also serves on the North Riverdale Merchants Association board — thinks it would be great to have one in the Skyview Shopping Center.

“It’ll be an excellent location,” Green said, pointing to the nearby Skyview-on-the-Hudson towers as a reliable customer base. And while Green conceded there might be issues with parking, she believed the lot and metered street parking would suffice.

Green forwarded Avila’s email to her entire contact list, including Terhi Edwards, a longtime Realtor for Douglas Elliman. Edwards loved the idea of a Trader Joe’s and quickly forwarded it to her own contacts. She says prospective buyers often ask where they should grocery shop and are disappointed when there are no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

“They’re coming from the areas where they have those stores, so it’s important to them,” Edwards said.

She drives up to the Trader Joe’s in Eastchester because she likes the affordability, and her kids love their snacks.

“I think, as Riverdalians, we should have it, too,” Edwards said. “Why not?”

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