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Petitioners putting in their 99 cents' worth

June 05, 2001

Jennifer Kho

MESA VERDE -- About 1,000 business owners, employees and customers

have signed a petition to try to persuade Trader Joe's Co. to open

another store in Costa Mesa.

The petitioners want the new store to open in a shopping center at

Harbor Boulevard and Baker Street where Save Max was, said Jody Reese,

owner of My Kind'a Beach Tanning Salon, who has been circulating the

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petitions.

"We're trying to get something here that would generate business for

the whole center, not just the individual store," said Larry Ziemke,

manager at King's Copies, another store gathering petition signatures.

"It's dead here. Save Max didn't generate any business. They are

considering a [99 Cent Only Store], and we don't think that would either.

Trader Joe's would. Everybody is excited about the idea of having a

Trader Joe's here."

But Trader Joe's representatives said the company is not interested in

opening a store in the Harbor Boulevard and Baker Street shopping center.

"We look at each location individually to see if it makes sense for

us," said Pat St. John, spokeswoman for the company. "We have no plans to

open a store there at this time."

The property's manager, George Coppens, said Trader Joe's at one point

expressed interest in sharing the vacant space with Longs Drugs. But the

company changed its mind, saying the center is too close to the Trader

Joe's store on 17th Street.

"We would still love to have a Trader Joe's," Coppens said. Trader

Joe's "says it is too close, but we don't feel that way. If they go

farther north, it is all industrial or residential, so they can't really

put a store farther away."

99 Cent Only Stores has made an offer for the space, Coppens said, but

the owners are "waiting to see if we get anything better."

"It's been a grocery store since 1964, so we would like a grocery

store and everyone in the neighborhood would like a grocery store," he

said. "We're working on it, but grocery stores are getting bigger and

bigger, and we're getting left in the cold. It's 28,000 square feet, for

more of a hometown-type of store and perfect for a Trader Joe's."

A 99 Cent Only Stores representative was unavailable for comment by

press time.

Scott Peterson, a Mesa Verde resident who has signed the petition,

said he thinks there are plenty of potential customers to support a new

Trader Joe's.

"The sentiment in the community is that we would love to get a Trader

Joe's in the area," he said. "I love Trader Joe's, but I don't go to the

[West 17th Street] store because it is so far away. We don't want a [99

Cents Only] store because it's a cheesy, tacky kind of store that I think

of as being in the Pic 'N' Save genre. Trader Joe's should know there's

some serious interest in getting them in there."

But Reese said she can see the point of view of Trader Joe's.

"Of course it doesn't make sense to them to have the stores so close

together," she said. "To me, they would be better closing that one and

opening one at this site. But now that they are not coming in, we're just

hoping for a nice delicatessen-type of store."

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