Michael Hallat moved to Vancouver from California just a few years ago, only to realize that there was not one Trader Joe’s store in sight. The closest one he could find was in Bellingham, Washington, a town right outside the border of Vancouver, in which he soon realized that Canadians pile into this store to get their weekly dose of Trader Joe’s.

Recognizing that this is an issue, Hallat decided to open a retail store in Vancouver in which he could buy and sell Trader Joe’s products to save people the hassle of dealing with customs and border patrol. Pirate Joe’s was born and two years later still fully operates for its loyal customers.

Trader Joe's

Photo courtesy of grub street.com


Why did he want to do this in the first place and what does Trader Joe’s think of this? Hallat says that he opened the shop after being in Bellingham at the Trader Joe’s, and noticing just how many Canadians go there. He wanted to live in Vancouver and work in retail, so he thought this was the perfect opportunity. Trader Joe’s wasn’t too pleased however when the company found out about this. They sent him a cease-and-desist letter demanding him to close the store within seven days. Obviously he didn’t do that, and instead hung the letter up in the window demonstrating his passion for his store.

After a year passed, Trader Joe’s filed a lawsuit against him in which he won, allowing him to keep the store running. In retaliation, Trader Joe’s stores nearby kept a picture of him, so knowing what he looks like, they can kick him out of the store and refuse to sell him any products. Instead, he hires shoppers to do the food shopping for him, bring it to the store, and allow him to continue selling these products.

Now, he says, he won’t quit Pirate Joe’s, because he doesn’t want to give Trader Joe’s the upper hand. We think you’re great Michael! Canada needs a Trader Joe’s, keep it up!

Everyone else seems to be loving him too.