There could soon be dueling specialty food stores on Dorset Street in South Burlington.
The city's Development Review Board has given plans for the state's first Trader Joe's the green light.
The 35,000-square-foot independent grocer Healthy Living Market is getting a new neighbor and some competition in South Burlington. Specialty food store Trader Joe's.
"When I come to Burlington I would stop in at Trader Joe's. I used to live in Illinois and I loved my Illinois Trader Joe's. There were things I could get at Trader Joe's that I couldn't get anywhere else," said Liz Gattone, a shopper at Healthy Living.
Trader Joe's will be less than half the size of Healthy Living and carries mostly its own products, so Healthy Living's owners are staying positive.
"This will drive a whole different group of traffic to this area which will be beneficial to us," said Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, a co-owner of Healthy Living.
"I would come here again if they didn't have what I needed at Trader Joe's," Gattone said.
Real Estate Developer Patrick Malone says most projects take eight months for approval. Trader Joe's took two years.
"This was subject to the new interim zoning that basically put a building moratorium within the city. And so we had to go through numerous additional steps and stages and level of review to get this approved," Malone explained.
Malone's company also owns the property Healthy Living calls home, but says he thinks Trader Joe's will be good for Healthy Living. He cited an example of a independent grocer in Chicago who told him he benefited from having a Trader Joe's next door.
"That immediately increased the sales of the independent store by 25 percent and it remains that way today," Malone said.
We reached out to Trader Joe's. The company told us it had "nothing to confirm." Malone says he hopes construction will begin soon and that he feels Trader Joe's won't back out of the deal.
"They're very excited to enter this market and to stay involved in this for two years shows the level of commitment they made," Malone said.
Malone says he hopes construction will be wrapped up by next spring and that Trader Joe's could employ between 60 and 80 people.
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