The backroom at TJs

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ClownLoach
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by ClownLoach »

veteran+ wrote: April 15th, 2024, 9:09 am
mbz321 wrote: April 14th, 2024, 7:33 pm Funny that this comes up as I happened to be driving around the back of a shopping center with a Trader Joe's last week and I noticed on their loading dock area they had a TJ's branded pop-up canopy with boxes of merchandise (or perhaps and hopefully, store supplies) being stored underneath!
Common practice from what I have seen.
Honestly this is a practice that has emerged all over retail in the last 30 years. You can blame your favorite store, Walmart for this.

As Walmart moved into the Supercenter era, they intentionally reduced or eliminated the majority of their back rooms. They made the decision that they would add more dock doors, and impose on their landlords where they lease. To replace the back room space, they would lease extra trailers on the dock and also rent shipping containers that would line the alleys behind the stores. And they would sometimes stack paper goods and other items on pallets behind the store or even on the roofs of the storage containers. So now instead of needing to add say 50,000 Sq ft to convert a Division 1 to a Supercenter, they would only need to add 30,000 because they were effectively moving overstock outside of the four walls at a lower cost. And if the landlord or neighbors didn't like 50 ugly rusty storage bins out back as a low rent stock room, "tough $#!&" was their response along with idle threats of closure that would never actually happen.

Back then Walmart was ridiculously transparent and reported almost weekly. "Eggs this week were more popular because Easter is coming up. Next week we expect to see a lift in trash bag sales." So Walmart suddenly was telling Wall Street that up to 90% of their supercenter facilities were now sales floor space and that became the expectation for all other retailers. Department store chains were always the worst offenders, I've explained elsewhere that some of these huge Macy's and others are half sales space, half offices, backrooms etc. And the expectation that back rooms disappear was coupled with the big box boom that ran into the 2010s. Retailers like Circuit City who ran a half backroom, half showroom format were crucified by the Wall Street geniuses who never foresaw e-commerce, curbside pickup etc. as they demanded that stores open up all their walls and maximize the sales floors even if they weren't actually adding any SKUs or delivering any productivity with the moves. This also forced many retailers to move to overnight and early morning stocking simply because the freight won't physically fit in the back room. It is not acceptable to these Wall Street people for the store to have a back room large enough to hold a full delivery.

My point is that although I appreciate your passion about Trader Joe's, they're actually one of the only retailers that is pushing back. They can afford this since they're privately owned. Trader Joe's is actively trying to get space at any price where it's available to add additional stores to bleed off overloaded locations, any time any tenant closes next to one of their older in-line stores they immediately lease the space and remodel to absorb it. Is it a problem that they have some overflowing back rooms where unloading has to be outside due to lack of facilities? Yes, but I challenge you to drive through that same Trader Joe's strip mall in the early morning hours. You're going to see Walmart, TJX, Petco, Michaels, CVS, Walgreens, Whole Foods Market, some Sprouts, Small Format Target, 99 Cents Only before they went under, and many more doing the exact same thing with alleys or front sidewalks covered in freight sitting there for hours. The difference is that frankly the rats are out at night when these other stores are stacking boxes outside, while they sleep during the day when TJs is unloading additional trucks. This is a problem that spans the majority of big box retailers that didn't demand dock wells and large unloading areas as they tried to grow fast over the last 30 years, and I honestly don't think Trader Joe's anticipated that the rest of the conventional grocery industry would abandon some of the most densely populated urban areas leaving TJs as the predominant grocer while lacking the facilities to accommodate the additional business they were inheriting. I am sorry but I think if you looked a little further you'd find that this is a much more widespread problem.

Freight sitting in the alley and doors open all day and night is a common practice throughout big box retail and has been for several decades now.
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by veteran+ »

Not my experience, in general.

TJs has had this problem forever and it's good to see them being finally sited for crazy backrooms.

And yes there have been examples of that kind of mess with other retailers through the years but they were outliers even within the same retailer.

The companies I worked for would tolerate that stuff for a short zero minutes.
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by ClownLoach »

veteran+ wrote: April 16th, 2024, 11:50 am Not my experience, in general.

TJs has had this problem forever and it's good to see them being finally sited for crazy backrooms.

And yes there have been examples of that kind of mess with other retailers through the years but they were outliers even within the same retailer.

The companies I worked for would tolerate that stuff for a short zero minutes.
The fact is the few older, smaller stores in the urban areas where this is happening at TJs is also an outlier in their chain. They don't have this problem in the typical builds they've opened over the last decade. It's only the old small stores. Most of the chain is about 20,000 Sq ft outside of urban areas, while original stores are 10,000 Sq ft or smaller and lack the amenities of sealed docks and such. My guess is they have less than 100 problem stores left, and they're approaching 600 locations. Some of those problem stores have been expanded and remodeled at great expense multiple times to absorb the space that became available, but really until the 2010s you didn't see many freestanding Trader Joe's in shopping centers, they were usually an in-line between other big boxes like a PetSmart and a Staples. Now when that Staples closes, TJs moves in immediately and all the problems are solved. But until they do close, there is little they can do besides effectively kill their own business by reducing deliveries and allowing shelves to go empty. And the reality is that although you may not like it, at least TJs gets regular health inspections unlike all the other box stores that do the same exact thing, unload pallets in the parking lot overnight and bring them in "whenever". Can't tell you how many times I had to chase lizards out of my back room that rode in on pallets when I worked at a chain that didn't have adequate space and the driver would be demanding to leave immediately as we pulled the pallets off and left them outside to be broken down and sorted as they came in. There was literally no room to sort anywhere else. It's very common, even in stores being built by other chains today.

Meanwhile I can even name two Costco stores that pile pallets of merchandise outside and leave it there all day in full view of the freeway. This is a problem almost everywhere. The few chains that I can name that really invested to build proper size back rooms, unload areas, dock wells etc. and demanded them on every store include Toys R Us, Bed Bath and Beyond, Circuit City, COMPUSA, Sports Authority and a few others. Do you see anything in common with the chains I mentioned?
Last edited by ClownLoach on April 16th, 2024, 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by veteran+ »

That may be true.

But none of the TJs I know are that large.
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by ClownLoach »

veteran+ wrote: April 16th, 2024, 12:03 pm That may be true.

But none of the TJs I know are that large.
At this point 2/3rds of the chain is outside of California and modern builds for the most part. They have massive stores in NYC with 30+ checkout stands. The only place they really have struggled is the first few areas they expanded to back east where you hear the noise, Massachusetts I believe was first to get an East Coast TJs and they were all California style in-line stores. You mentioned a few other back east places and they were the same issue, in lines built without big box facilities. Everything in the Northeast is problematic logistically and size wise.

Basically they have to get out of the remaining in-line stores and tiny restaurant size standalones. I'd even close the original in Pasadena and make it a museum or something.

Office stores, drugstores etc. Closing have been a gift to Trader Joe's. They have enabled many relocations and additional stores.
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Re: The backroom at TJs

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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by pseudo3d »

veteran+ wrote: April 19th, 2024, 9:16 am https://www.supermarketnews.com/retail- ... ailer-year

No comment :x
Maybe they shouldn't be using fly-by-night factories to supply food. Remember the Peanut Corporation of America scandal?
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by veteran+ »

pseudo3d wrote: April 19th, 2024, 11:43 am
veteran+ wrote: April 19th, 2024, 9:16 am https://www.supermarketnews.com/retail- ... ailer-year

No comment :x
Maybe they shouldn't be using fly-by-night factories to supply food. Remember the Peanut Corporation of America scandal?
EXACTLY!!!!!
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Re: The backroom at TJs

Post by ClownLoach »

So Trader Joe's has announced 17 new stores in just the last 6 weeks. Many more on the way, and if you look at their website I see several of these must be intended to bleed sales off older, overloaded stores nearby. They seem to be very seriously adding real estate as fast as they can, thankfully as a private company they don't have to worry about Wall Street investors bitching about cannibalism and negative comps.
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