Trader Joe’s, which offers a number of store brand specialty items, describes itself as “your neighborhood grocery store.” Image via fb.com
Brace yourselves. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and H&M are coming to West Michigan.
In an upcoming move that Mike Murray, principal at Colliers International West Michigan, has called an economic “game-changer,” the three national retailers were confirmed today to be moving to the Grand Rapids area soon.
H&M, a Swedish multinational retail-clothing store, has secured a location in the Woodland Mall and hopes to be open by the holiday season, said Earl Clements, principal at Colliers International and state director of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Murray said H&M hopes to make the official announcement in the next 30 to 60 days.
“It’s adding to the selection that we in West Michigan will have,” Clements said. “It’ll be nice to have that retail selection and make it a nicer place to live.”
As for Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, both of which are recognized for organic and health-oriented foods, no location has been secured yet, Murray said, but both are looking at the East Beltline Avenue and Knapp Street corner, as well as 28th Street SE in Cascade.
Murray said if he had to guess, he’d put his money on seeing the stores open in 2014 on 28th Street and Knapp’s Corner. Announcements for securing locations will probably come within the next four to six months, he said.
Both stores have the same type of market, which is a highly educated customer base with higher income, he said, adding that those areas fit those demographics.
“The problem is finding the right size,” Murray said. “They want to go into a successful retail development, kind of like when Cabela's went to Grandville. They didn’t go out in the middle of nowhere and expect people to go to them.”
These three major retailers might be the first of many, Murray said. Although Colliers will not be handling these transactions, but only helping the three companies in getting to know the West Michigan culture, Colliers is working with other brands to move into the area.
Big names attract other big names, he said, and days like today help to spur dozens of other national names to come to Grand Rapids.
“The significant thing with all three of these retailers is the more fresh national retail that comes to our market, the more our market pops up to other retailers and markets that aren’t here yet. Now they’ll start looking at our market,” he said.
“There are so many other people that follow where these guys go. If they’re in the market, other (specialty retailers) will follow,” Murray said. “There’s a laundry list of others already interested, and we can't announce who yet . . . but Grand Rapids is finally getting the credibility it deserves from the nationals.”
Murray said retail businesses normally enter Michigan through Detroit and eventually move west, but with all the good press West Michigan has seen in recent times, the economic tides are changing and retailers are now planting first in Grand Rapids before moving east.
“It’s just getting people to understand it’s the whole community that’s causing these retailers to look at us. Every single aspect, from ArtPrize to manufacturing and medical, it all helps the community in different aspects that people don’t even realize,” he said.
“There’s a reason they came to West Michigan . . . the people, the community, the downtown, the hospitals. . . They do take notice and see the community involvement. They want to capture that. They know we’re a healthy area.”
Whole Foods Community Liaison Amanda Musilli spoke to the retailer’s plans for the market on Wednesday.
“We saw that there was some chatter about it, but we do not have any store to announce,” Musilli said. “We strictly adhere to announcing all of our stores during our quarterly earnings call. Our next quarterly earnings call is May 7.
“I can tell you (we are looking) in a few communities across the state of Michigan, and we’d love to have more of a presence here, but — at this time — I do not have a confirmation that we are coming to Grand Rapids," she said. "We have no plans to open a store in Grand Rapids any time soon.”
H&M could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
"It's standard practice for corporate retail PR firms to deny claims like this, as it clues in their competition,” Colliers West Michigan posted on its Facebook page Wednesday.
“Trader Joe's' and Whole Foods' real estate brokers have been actively looking and touring our West Michigan marketplace for some time (most recently, in the past 60 days),” Colliers West Michigan posted. “Although they have not made a site selection and may not in the immediate future, their brokers have communicated with us that the 'right' site will bring them to our market.”
Colliers West Michigan will “discuss” Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods on Wednesday night on WZZM TV 13, WOOD TV 8 and FOX TV 17, according to its Twitter profile.
Trader Joe's spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki spoke briefly to the grocery store's plans for the region on Wednesday night.
"At this time, Grand Rapids is not in Trader Joe’s two-year plan of opening a location," Mochizuki said.