June 19, 2010

Trader Joe's moves a step closer

The FTC approves the company's purchase of the former Wild Oats store on Marginal Way in Portland.

From staff reports

PORTLAND - One of the last hurdles to a Trader Joe's store opening in Portland was cleared Friday when the Federal Trade Commission approved the company's purchase of the former Wild Oats store on Marginal Way.

The sale of the store was one condition for the FTC's approval of Whole Foods Markets' purchase of the Wild Oats chain.

The commission said Whole Foods would have to sell off any stores it closed as a result of the purchase -- including the one on Marginal Way -- preferably to a potential competitor.

Trader Joe's, like Whole Foods, specializes in natural and organic foods and fresh produce. Its store-brand offerings are very popular with customers, who also like its cut-rate wine.

Consumers have been eager for the store to open since it was announced earlier this year that Trader Joe's had applied to purchase Portland's former Wild Oats store, just a few blocks from Whole Foods Market.

Trader Joe's hasn't commented formally on its plans for Portland, but it did apply last month for food service and wine and liquor licenses from the city.

The approval of the sale and the actual transaction were expected to be the last barriers before the company renovates the building and announces details of its plans.

Trader Joe's did not return calls for comment Friday.

Dozens of people posted on the FTC's website during a comment period, with the only slightly negative sentiment from an Augusta woman who wanted a Trader Joe's closer to her town.

Trader Joe's has about 350 stores in 25 states and Washington, D.C. The Portland store would be its first in Maine.


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