Until the lawyers get in the way. Hosers!
Vancouver, British Columbia -- Michael Hallatthas spent more than $350,000 at Trader Joe's in less than two years. But the popular grocery chain doesn't ever want to see him again.
"I'm their best customer," he said with a mix of pride and indignation.
Every week, the former Bay Area resident drives his panel van across the border to buy a few thousand dollars worth of merchandise at Trader Joe's stores in the States. He then turns around and resells the goods at his own shop in Canada for a profit.
Now, despite the obvious affection Hallatt and his customers have for the eclectic grocer, he finds himself the subject of a lawsuit filed in May by the California company, which has no presence in Canada. The suit seeks to shut down the store he owns in Vancouver that is entirely devoted to reselling Trader Joe's products.Here's an idea; make him a wholesaler, sell to him in bulk; he'll then be able to buy more from Trader Joe's and sell more (at lower prices) to his Canadian customers. This is known to economists as normal commercial behavior among consenting adults.
But the gray-market game is challenging. The chocolate Hallatt bought at an L.A. Trader Joe's melted during a heat wave. Chicken jerky dog treats were confiscated at the border because a special permit was required. And his unmarked white van, which can hold well over 100 bags of groceries, often invites suspicion. Once, to avoid being recognized, he decided to cross-dress. He was putting on a leopard muumuu, earrings and flowered flip-flops in a Rite-Aid parking lot when somebody called the police, figuring he was going to rob the drugstore.
"My nail polish was not even dry when three cops showed up," Hallatt recalled.Suing your customers; great marketing plan.
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