Trader Joe’s scouting out first South LA store

Trader Joe's | Rebecca

Trader Joe’s | Rebecca

In 1967, the first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena. The supermarket chain began selling its organic pretzels and “Two Buck-Chuck” wine among other groceries outside of California in the 1990s and grew to operate more than 400 stores nationwide.

Now, for the first time, Trader Joe’s is coming to South L.A.

The store has committed to opening a location at the forthcoming USC Village, located on Hoover and 31st streets near the Figueroa Corridor, according to USC University Communications.

Many residents who live in the area are rejoicing.

“I think it’s great that we’re going to have a Trader Joe’s in our neighborhood,” said Ruthie Smith, a South L.A. resident. “To get to a Trader Joe’s (now) we have to go so far.”

Some of the closest Trader Joe’s stores are about four miles away, in Mid-City, Silverlake and Hollywood.

Trader Joe’s touts “unconventional and interesting products” and is known for having healthy and organic food options. According to its website, Trader Joe’s buys directly from suppliers, bargains for a fair price and passes on the savings on customers.

South L.A. has long struggled with healthy food access due to lack of food options in the neighborhood. An infographic released by Colorlines compared food access in South L.A.,which has a population of 1,009,550, to food access in West L.A., which has a population of 637,129. The study showed that 72 percent of restaurants in South L.A. sell fast food, while only 41 percent of West L.A. restaurants sell fast food.

Furthermore, children in South L.A. are two times as likely as children in West L.A. to be obese, while adults are three times as likely. South L.A.’s diabetes death rate is three-and-a-half times higher than West L.A.’s.

Residents hope that bringing a healthier grocery store into the neighborhood will help battle these challenges.

South L.A. resident Asha Greene thinks the store will be great for the community.

“Right now all we have is Fresh and Easy and I know that Ralph’s is trying to do the whole organic thing, but we really don’t have a complete health food store in this area,” she said.

After hearing good things about Trader Joe’s from family members, Smith is looking forward to finally being able to shop there herself.

“My family goes to Trader Joe’s and they say there’s a lot of healthy stuff there,” Smith said. “That’s where I need to go.”

For now, residents will have to wait. The construction is expected to be completed by 2017.

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