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Trader Joe's Loses Battle With Canada's 'Pirate Joe's'

Reseller no threat to chain, judge decides
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2013 2:56 AM CDT
Updated Oct 7, 2013 7:00 AM CDT
Trader Joe's Loses Battle With Canada's 'Pirate Joe'
Pedestrians pause to look in the Pirate Joe's store in Vancouver, Canada.    (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

(Newser) – Trader Joe's has lost a legal battle against one of its biggest-spending customers: A Canadian who brings the chain's goods across the border and sells them at his "Pirate Joe's" store. A judge in Washington state ruled that Vancouver resident Michael Hallatt was doing no economic harm to the Trader Joe's chain—which has no presence in Canada—because he was paying full retail price for the goods, the CBC reports. The company, which complained that Hallatt was misleading customers with a store that strongly resembled one of its own, argued that he was hurting their business because many of the customers at the store where he buys products to resell are Canadian.

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Hallatt says he started the business because he is a huge fan of Trader Joe's products and he would give it up if the chain ever decided to open stores across the border. "We'd prefer it if they just opened in Vancouver, put everybody out of their misery," he tells the Vancouver Sun. "In the meantime, I'm here to supply Vancouverites with products that they're asking me to bring in." Hallatt used to spend around $5,000 every week at a Trader Joe's in Washington state—but he is now banned from the store and has to send other people to stock up. (Meanwhile, Trader Joe's former president is starting a new store selling expired food.)

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