Monday, March 8, 2010

The Return of Trader Joe's Market (formerly Pronto Market) to the North of the Railroad Tracks, Soon!

These photos are from the full page ad of June 1966 from Pronto Market, Villa and Allen, in North Pasadena, which ran in the Pasadena Courier. Here from Wikipedia the history of Trader Joe's, which was started at Villa and Allen as Pronto Market:

Trader Joe's is named after its founder, Joe Coulombe. The chain began in 1958 as a Greater Los Angeles area chain of "Pronto Market" convenience stores. The original Pronto Markets were similar to 7-Eleven stores, so similar Coulombe felt the competition with 7-Eleven would be ruinous.[5] He is said to have developed the idea of the Trader Joe South Seas motif while on vacation in the Caribbean.[6] He had noticed that Americans were traveling more and returning home with tastes for food and wine they had trouble satisfying in supermarkets of the time.[7] The first store named "Trader Joe's" opened its doors in 1967. This store, on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California, remains in operation. In response to competition from 7-Eleven, the chain differentiated its stores' offerings and doubled the floor space in 1967. In the first few decades of operation, some of the stores offered fresh meats provided by butchers who leased space in the stores. Trader Joe's at one time had sandwich shops, freshly cut cheese, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Notice the "Pronto Man" character. The ad style is very recognizable as being the forerunner of "Trader Joe's."

Many of us believe that the City just has not tried hard enough with financial incentives and other persuasion to get the Trader Joe's organization to open a branch on the north end of Lake Avenue, where the demographics suggest there is definitely the well-heeled clientele, although even the less wealthy neighbors would love the freshness, quality and prices of a Trader Joe's. With the historic neighborhoods of expensive homes surrounding Lake Washington Village, such as Historic Highlands, Bungalow Heaven, Washington Square, Garfield Heights, Orange Heights, Normandie Heights, Dundee Heights and El Rio Lake, not to mention all the tony neighborhoods of Altadena on the north stretch of Lake Avenue, we just can't imagine that the Trader Joe's organization wouldn't be willing to cash in and make a bundle, and this would not take away from the business of their Hastings Ranch and South Lake locations which are located quite a ways apart and have their own supporting neighborhoods.

There has been a suggestion of circulating a petition in the surrounding neighborhoods of Lake Washington Village to be submitted to the Trader Joe's organization and to the Councilmembers McAustin and Gordo to show our seriousness of getting Trader Joe's back to its North Pasadena roots and the varied and large clientele which is driving too far or foregoing shopping at the venerable food retailer. Hopefully, we can get our Councilmembers on board and also Pasadena's Development Department to offer the Trader Joe's organization a deal they can't ignore. Once Trader Joe's is in Lake Washington Village, we believe their success can't be denied.

We understand there was a half-hearted attempt to get Trader Joe's to go into the old Alpha Beta store premises at Hill and Washington, but instead we got a Rite-Aid that we really didn't need, with CVS/Savon and now Walgreen's within easy reach of our neighborhoods.

So everybody, the Councilmembers, the City's Development Department and the united neighbors and neighborhoods, let us try again to get the food retailer everybody in the area wants! Let's get the petition started!


  1. I'd love one of those bad boys up there. At SF state, we're right next to Stonestown which has it's own TJ's underground. And getting rid of the Ghetto Basket would be a great starting place for that kind of operation.

    I don't know when the pronto on Allen closed; I remember when it was the original location of Nicole's.

  2. Your ripe for a TJ's. We lost ours some time back in the 80's(the present day Hi Ho on Meridian). I believe if they opened their doors in the same location today, they would be a success.

    I remember the handmade sandwiches to order.

  3. Those Ads hearken back to a more liberal, wild, open time. Now, our society is strangled with more laws,rules & regs than ever before.

    In the good old daze even going to the grocery store was wild fun. Women meeting & shopping. Whispering to each other about having more time for "Wild" activities. With the quick & easy, Pronto Joe or whoever.

    Then the 60's revolution, hippies, etc ruined it all. No, not as much fun since the 60's changed everything.
    So, YES, I'm with y'all for bringing a bit of that back with another TJ's! .

    Great job as usual, TA.

  4. That's an awfully subjective assessment, CP, but your sentiment is echoed. The way I see it, the 70s were the beginning of the end; the 210 had a lot to do with that.