Flagstaff city officials are continuing to make progress in their bid to bring niche grocer Trader Joe's to Flagstaff.
City Manager Kevin Burke recently stated that the city has been in regular contact with the Monrovia, Calif.-based grocer since meeting with company officials roughly six months ago at a Las Vegas trade show.
The biggest arsenal in the city's bag of incentives continues to be an economic report showing millions of dollars tied to grocery sales are being spent outside of Flagstaff. Officials are convinced a large chunk of that is related to local residents shopping at Trader Joe's in the Valley.
"The report certainly got some folks' attention," said Economic Vitality Director Stacey Button.
The city has since followed up with another economic report outlining general spending habits for four types of Flagstaff shoppers: permanent residents, second homeowners, students and tourists.
"The interest in other grocers (not in Flagstaff) is definitely there," Button said.
Button said the city has contacted other grocers currently not in Flagstaff but did not provide specific names.
In light of the city's tight finances, no financial incentives are being extended to any grocer, Button confirmed.
The city has an economic incentive fund to bring new businesses to Flagstaff, but it has never been used to bring a retailer here.
Button cautioned it would be years before Trader Joe's might open a store in Flagstaff.
She said company officials told her that they are looking to take advantage of low commercial real estate prices in California before expanding in Arizona.
"They are very interested in Flagstaff but they have other priorities at the moment," she said.
Trader Joe's had reportedly planned to open a store in the Prescott area before coming to Flagstaff, but several of the possible sites identified by the grocer did not pan out.
She emphasized the grocer is in the pre-planning stages and was not looking at any Flagstaff properties at the moment.
A spokesperson for Trader Joe's, Alison Mochizuki, said earlier this year that neither Prescott nor Flagstaff was in the grocer's two-year plan for opening a new location.
Joe Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2253.