I love living in Provo. It’s true. One of the great things about living in Provo right now is our cool Mayor, John Curtis. He gets things done, and he’s active in social media which allows his constituents to know about the things he’s getting done. Right now, the Bring Trader Joe’s To Provo movement (an extension of the long-enduring Bring Trader Joe’s to Utah movement) is in full force, and Mayor Curtis is heading it up, which is good, and a smart move. There are some diverting issues surrounding the campaign (will Orem get a Trader Joe’s first? [No.] What about Springville or American Fork? [No.]), but what will happen is that a Trader Joe’s store will end up in Provo.
This brings us to the next favorite thing people involved love to argue about: where?
Where would it go? Where could it go? Where should it go?
I’ve heard and read a lot of feedback: the Riverwoods, ShopKo’s old spot, East Bay (Kmart’s old spot), Downtown/City Center, by the Covey Center.
The correct answer is west of the freeway. I’ll explain why, and even respond to some of the feedback I’ve seen online dismissing this idea.
Why? There is no grocery store west of the freeway in Provo. I thought about contacting Dixon to ask him how I can find out the population numbers out here, and I still might, but for those who don’t know, the growth west of the freeway has been significant the last 10-20 years. Retail-wise, we’ve got a Chevron, a 7-11, another gas station I don’t know, a Subway, a laundromat, an awesome coffee/drink stand, a Great Steak, and our most recent addition, a Family Dollar. Now, if you look at the population of Provo west of the freeway you will see clearly how ridiculous this is. If we want to make a Quick Run to the store that means going to Fresh Market or Maceys, or simply driving up Geneva to Wal*Mart. In other words, there is no Quick Run to the store for a significant population of Provo.
But west of the freeway isn’t an ideal place to set up a business. No? Have you talked to Julie, the owner of Zen Drinks? Also, have you heard of Trader Joe’s? Do you really think it wouldn’t thrive wherever it was placed?
No one would go all the way out there for Trader Joe’s. Um, no. That’s not a thing. People go to Salt Lake to go to Trader Joe’s now. Before that, people went to Vegas to go to Trader Joe’s. I’m not exaggerating.
Okay, maybe people would drive to the west side, but people shouldn’t have to drive that far. You mean to get…food? You mean like west-siders have to do now? Oh. Go think about that for a minute.
Admittedly I’m not a city planner, and I don’t need to be told It’s More Complicated Than That. I understand that putting a major business anywhere is a complicated and layered, et cetera. What I’m frustrated with is that I haven’t seen any arguments as to why west of the freeway in Provo isn’t the ideal location. The talking points I’ve mentioned above are what I see most frequently and they simply don’t hold.
I’ve written to Trader Joe’s. Several times over the years I’ve sent letters. I want to be part of this campaign but I also want to be heard on this very important matter: Provo—the portion of Provo west of the freeway—needs a grocery store. Placing it on 1600+ West Center Street gives easy freeway access to those traveling from anywhere south of here (unless they want to go to Vegas instead, or pass Provo to travel far off the freeway exits in Salt Lake), and to those traveling from northern Utah County who were going to drive to Salt Lake anyway but now they’re so glad that Provo’s Trader Joe’s is closer. More business for Provo because it’s just so easy to access from the Center Street exit? Great idea.
Mayor Curtis, I hope you see this. I hope you listen. Putting it on the west side of the freeway is the best thing to do. It’s not uncommon for west-siders to feel unheard, and I know I speak for more than just myself when I say that to see a huge campaign for a grocery store to come to Provo without priority for it to be west of the freeway only adds to that frustration. I’ve carried Trader Joe’s bags in my car home to Provo from California, Washington, and Missouri. You don’t have to worry about whether or not people will be willing to travel over here to go to Trader Joe’s: they will.
And while you’re over here, stop by and say hello. If you give me a heads-up I can have scotcharoos ready (if you didn’t stop by Sodalicious and get one on your way over).