On January 31, a lady walking her dog announced to me that "Trader Joe's is coming to Clairemont!" She said she knows someone that works for the Clairemont Town Square shopping center and that everything she's been told ahead of time by this person has panned out.
"Trader Joe's will go in where Ace Hardware is or Ross Dress for Less." She said it's happening in 2019.
To give this exchange context, it's important to understand that nearly every time a storefront becomes vacant in Clairemont, someone will ask: "How about a Trader Joe's?" And then when that doesn't happen: "I was hoping for a Trader Joe's!" It's sort of an inside joke in Clairemont, because this conversation has been going on for years.
In 2012, one of the first things the new Clairemont town council president did was to contact Trader Joe's. In 2015, residents participated in an email campaign that made enough noise to hit Trader Joe's corporate ears. At that time, a Trader Joe's representative told me they had heard Clairemont loud and clear and had plans to look at locations in Clairemont.
In February, a reliable source said Trader Joe's is now proactively looking at sites throughout Clairemont, making it likely they inquired at the Clairemont Town Square too.
It's equally possible a developer is planning something in the Clairemont Town Square (as has been rumored) and using Trader Joe's as a carrot in the hopes of not only getting Trader Joe's attention but sealing the deal on getting community approval.
Clairemont resident Kathy Dunn's father (Chuck Dunn) knew Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe's. "My dad told me about how Joe took road trips to buy wine all over the west, and even to Europe, and sometimes bought a tanker truck full of wine that was rebottled under the Trader Joe's label, often from very well known wineries." Dunn said Coulombe used to attend her dad's enology club [study of wines) in Manhattan Beach to run blind tastings of his wines.
Dunn has shopped at Trader Joe's since the first one opened in Pasadena in 1967. "When I lived in University Heights, I was thrilled when one was put into the Uptown shopping center."
Now that Dunn is retired, she wants a Trader Joe's where she lives in Clairemont. She said driving to the other locations is getting more inconvenient with ongoing construction and traffic.
"I'm shopping much less at Trader Joe's now,but would definitely give them my business if they had a location in Clairemont or Kearny Mesa."
In a 2011 Los Angeles Times article Coulombe mentions the Claremont 120 miles north of San Diego that took twenty years of making noise before they finally got their Trader Joe's (in 2008).
Coulombe, who is turning 89 this year, sold Trader Joe's in 1979.