Greater City Providence

Trader Joe’s Excitement… In Warwick…

traderjoesWhile furniture shopping, my wife and I drove by the new Trader Joe’s on Route 2 in Warwick and, if we hadn’t decided to cut our time losses and leave, we otherwise might still be in the checkout line two days later… As my wife put it, “I’ve never seen anyplace this crazy…”

It was indeed jam packed. Warwick police were out directing the overflow traffic. The formerly sad, forgotten little strip plaza there (what, you never went to Jamiel’s Shoes?) has a new upscale facade and, while the plaza is still sad, its asphalt lot has now grown a Panera to feed the hungry masses of Trader Joe’s shoppers.

While I’m thrilled to get a Trader Joe’s in RI (since it’s one of those businesses like a Target or a Whole Foods that convinces the suburban masses that neighborhoods in our state are “safe” to move to and live in from a lifestyle point of view – a materialistic “stamp of approval” of sorts) a part of me is still disappointed that this excitement isn’t being generated at a Trader Joe’s anchoring a new centralized parking garage in downtown Providence where, rather than bringing shopping joy to a suburban parking lot, it could be the foundation for the flourishing of an entire neighborhood of our capitol city. Unfortunately, such a development was never proposed, but one can always dream that some other, hipper, and more progressive retail chain will have that vision…

Bret Ancowitz


  • Wow, I went on opening day and check-out cost me about 5 minutes and a nice chat with the person in line behind me.

    And it’s my understanding that the Mayor’s office and DownCity developers worked hard to lure TJs. Only for a TJs would I endure Route 2.

  • Saddly, TJ’s has, by report, an almost exclusively strip plaza development model these days. They require a certain number of surface parking spackes (I think about 100 or so) and the sites need to be certain distances from highway exits. They aren’t interested in urban locations that don’t offer those features right now :(.

    The last three TJ’s I’ve seen have been uber-suburban, including one in one of the most banal, saddest strip plazas in Danbury, CT that is, of course, right next to a highway exit…

  • What I have been told regarding Trader Joe’s in Providence is that they do not view our market as sufficiently urban. While they have urban no parking stores in cities like Boston, they aren’t ready to invest in a no parking lot Providence store.

    I can’t really argue against that, Providence while highly walkable, and attracting more Downtown residents, is still a very auto-centric city.

    I’ve heard that Cornish tried to get them to come to the Westminster area, but they insisted on a certain amount of parking that Cornish could not provide. The other rumor is that they may have been interested in the Waterman Street Whole Foods space, which is why Whole Foods is still sitting on that space.

    I think in order to get a real grocery store into Downcity, it will have to be built into a parking garage (since we do not want to see surface parking Downcity). I would point to the proposed Garrahy Courthouse Garage as the best space for a Downcity grocer.

  • Here’s Trader Joe’s from Providence via RIPTA:

    View Larger Map

    Anywhere from 33 to 50 minutes depending on which bus combo, all including a walking component in the Bald Hill area. Epic FAIL.

  • I’d be happy to give you a lift down there if you want, although I tend to go to the one in Framingham that sells alcohol. I’m glad they finally got to RI, but I don’t seem to be their target market for this store. Maybe they’ll do better next time.

  • Well if they don’t even have alcohol, why bother? Have they never heard of a well balanced diet?

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