Trader Joe’s in Cottonwood Heights, Utah is currently the closest location for Utah County residents. (Photo by Rebecca Lane/UV360)

Thursday marked the one-year announcement anniversary for Trader Joe’s in Orem, Utah, news that caused a lot of buzz on social media both before and after the announcement.

“So far people have been ecstatic that they are opening,” said Ryan Clark, Orem’s economic development division manager. “In fact, everyone has been very impatient about why it hasn’t happened yet.”

Now one year later, a building stands on the property surrounded by chain-linked fence and flocked with construction workers.

While Trader Joe’s hasn’t shared an exact opening date yet, the company has posted on its website that the store will open in “late 2018.” But a Trader Joe’s spokesperson provides more hope for anxious customers — the company tentatively aims to open the store at some point in summer 2018.

Before Trader Joe’s can open its doors at the Orem location, 440 East Park Avenue, a few things need to happen. Recently, the old Big O Tires building on State St. was demolished and the old Wells Fargo location on State St. will soon follow, according to Clark. The businesses, which have moved to new locations, are being demolished to make room for an expanded parking lot. Plus, Trader Joe’s storefront will now be visible from State St. once construction is completed. Then interior construction of the Trader Joe’s building will need to be finished.

Both Orem and Provo residents started their push to attract Trader Joe’s to their individual cities in 2014. On Facebook, Orem asked its citizens to fill out a Trader Joe’s Location Request form online. While neighboring Provo also sent in requests and posted on social media, it was Orem that caught Trader Joe’s attention.

The Big O Tires on State St. in Orem, Utah was demolished to expand the parking lot for Trader Joe’s, which is currently under construction. (Photo by UV360)

“It was shared with me that because of the citizen engagement, we did get on Trader Joe’s radar,” Clark said. “They knew about our market, but from what I understand, it wasn’t in their short-term plan to expand down in this area, but because of the attention they received, they started looking into it and accelerated at that point.”

The University Place location was attractive to the specialty grocer store for the same reason it had attracted other businesses — it had the highest population density within a three to five mile radius of the shopping center out of any Utah County location. And a study projecting population estimates University Place will still maintain that position in 2040.

“The fact that Trader Joe’s has picked a location like that reinforces the message that if you’re going to want to come into an area, these are the areas to look at based on the history of the tenants that are picking them,” said Clark, who pointed to In-N-Out Burger and Nordstrom Rack as examples.

While Orem successfully caught Trader Joe’s attention with citizen engagement, the city doesn’t plan to regularly petition its community to contact businesses directly.

“It’s something we only want to pursue if the residents of Orem want it badly,” Clark said.

However, the city has tried having residents request The Cheesecake Factory, but the restaurant hasn’t bit yet.

“From my experience, The Cheesecake Factory isn’t really interested in this market yet,” Clark said.

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