New York's Not Big Enough for Two Traders

Trader Joe's Goes After Trader John's

By Published on .

For all their sophistication, New Yorkers go absolutely bonkers when they're given access to something the suburbs take for granted -- such as grocery stores full of pre-packaged foods. Thus, when Trader Joe's opened here, it was a huge deal. And not just with old ladies and college students keen to get their hands on Two Buck Chuck. A second Trader Joe's opened in Brooklyn without the accompanying liquor store (yeah, we sophisticates in New York aren't allowed to be eggs and wine in the same location), and it's doing crazy business. Indeed, my wife practically lives in it.

But in New York, no one's afraid to blatantly copy and/or steal a good idea -- hence Ray's Original Pizza, Ray's Pizza, Famous Ray's Original Pizza, Original Famous Ray's Pizza, New York's Rayriginal's Fizza, etc. So it was no surprise that someone went and opened up a place called Trader John's. After a few chuckles about McDowell's, friends and I wondered if Trader Joe's would bother to sue. Indeed, it did. Usually, it's not worth it to go after small mom-and-pop shops, but there were a couple of key mistakes made by Trader John's in this case. Firstly, it doesn't seem to be a mom-and-pop shop or some recent immigrant who has a fuzzy grasp of the laws in this country. No, the property in question is still owned by Gristedes, a well-known area supermarket chain. Secondly, Trader John's was opened a few blocks from Trader Joe's on the same street. That's just asking for it. (Be sure to check out the comments on Gawker. Lots of funny ones there.)

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