Food - Drink
Trader Joe's Once Had A Swashbuckling Canadian Rival
The story of Trader Joe’s Canadian doppelganger began in 2012, when entrepreneur Mike Hallatt launched Pirate Joe’s with the sole purpose of making Trader Joe’s most sought-after products accessible to Canadian shoppers. Hallatt would cross the border to a Trader Joe’s in Seattle, where he shopped in bulk for items to resell at his Vancouver store.
It was a brilliant, legal, and surprisingly simple operation, but Trader Joe’s eventually caught onto the caper, filing a lawsuit against Hallatt for trademark infringement, among other allegations. Hallatt was banned from Trader Joe’s, forcing him to shop incognito and hire others to shop for him, touting his operation as “Unaffiliated. Unauthorized. Unafraid.”
Per the New York Times, Hallatt had every intention of facing off against Trader Joe’s in court, but as legal costs mounted, he eventually reached a settlement with the chain. As he closed up shop in 2017, Hallatt told the Guardian, “It was a great run. So I think if they were ever to open [Trader Joe’s] in another country, Canada might be first on the list. We’ll see.”