Man spends $350,000 at Trader Joe's in Seattle and resells it at a profit in Vancouver
Mike Hallatt makes frequent trips to the United States to stock up on product during shopping sprees at Trader Joe's and welcomes the lawsuit that has been filed against him.He’s pirating their goods, and they’re trying to make him walk the plank.
A Canadian entrepreneur is in hot water for buying massive amounts of Trader Joe's products in Washington state, crossing the border, and selling the booty at a slight profit.
Mike Hallatt — who calls his vagabond Vancouver store "Pirate Joe's" — claims he's done nothing wrong, and is helping bring Trader Joe's to the Commonwealth.
"I'm their best customer," he told the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that he's purchased more than $350,000 worth of Joe-O's, mango salsa, and other goodies.
But Trader Joe's is suing the 53-year-old Canadian plunderer, saying Hallatt has harmed their business and infringed on their copyright, and is trying to shutter his Vancouver storefront.
In response, the cheeky Hallatt removed the "P" from his sign, so his store is now called Irate Joe's.
"My right to resell their product is stronger than their right to protect their brand," he said, noting that he's actually helping the chain render higher profits.
A self-professed lover of all things Trader Joe's, Hallat said it's so good that "I will eat dog food from them."
He says that the genius of his business model is saving most Canadians the hassle of driving long distances to reach the Washington stores, as well as saving them time and gas.
In the interim, Trader Joe’s has posted Hallatt’s photograph at nearly every Washington location in attempts to keep him out.
Can he actually be denied access to their stores? He's not doing anything illegal. You'd think Trader Joe's would take the hint and open stores in his area, thereby killing two birds with one stone.
"He's not doing anything illegal"
He's infringing on their copyright.
He infringing on their copyright only in regards to the name, which he fixed. His buying and reselling their products is perfectly legal, as long as he's not claiming them as his own product brand.
Nonsense. He is doing nothing illegal. He purchased their products, brought them home, and sold them in places where people don't have access to Trader Joe's. They ought to thank him.
As far as I know he doesn't misrepresent or repackage the items. He just resells them. Since he paid for them, and he owns them, why shouldn't he be permitted to do what he wants ? He isn't misrepresenting or altering anything.
Hell. If I could afford to do it I would too. He's an entrepreneur. Good for him and fuck Trader Joe's. How is that Different from the local grocer who travels to farms to buy produce, then sells it at his store. This is bullshit, but it's getting the guy a lot of free publicity. The damned Dollar stores do the same thing.
"He infringing on their copyright only in regards to the name, which he fixed"
Please, he is using their name to generate profits for himself.
"He's an entrepreneur"
Please, he is ripping off their name to make money. That's enough to make someone an entrepeneur?
"How is that Different from the local grocer who travels to farms to buy produce, then sells it at his store."
The grocers aren't infringing on anyone's copyright.
A better example would be someone buying clothes from The Gap and reselling them at higher prices at a store called Gap 2
Assuming he has a license to be in business in Vancouver and has complied with Customs regulations, he would be in the clear if he just used a different name.
It seems like Trader Joe's could easily stop this if they set reasonable quantity limits on their purchases. It's probably not going to be worth his time and effort if he's limited to buying five or ten of each item at a time.
This guy has made his point, and he has his customer base. Change the name to Smith's or Debbie's or Bust My Buttons, it doesn't matter now, people will find him.
R2, R5, R6, that's a question of fact. And your example was lousy.
If the people in Canada can't get the stuff locally, he should be able to buy it in the U.S. and provide it to them in his store.
The same thing goes in the other direction. In the U.S. grocery stores, we used to be able to get Nescafe Ice Java Coffee Syrup for making iced coffee. It was around $3.49 a bottle. The Nescafe people did a poor job of promoting it, so they stopped selling it here. However, it's still sold in Canada. The only way to get it is on eBay from people in the northern border states who go to Canada and bring it back by the case. Now it costs $12.00 a bottle.
I loved that stuff, R10. When my store was going to stop carrying it, they put it on sale at a great price. I bought their entire remaining stock. I rationed it, but I finally ran out.
I found a copycat recipe and I've been making it at home.
Our store has Eclipse Coffee Syrup, made in Rhode Island, but it's awful. I bought a case of Nescafe Ice Java brought over from Canada two years ago when it was going for $6.50 a bottle, but the current price is too much.
Eclipse is really awful, R12.
Sounds like a stupid move on Trader Joe's part. The money spent on a lawsuit would be spent opening a store in Vancouver where clearly they have a ready-made customer base.
R2 is not a lawyer, but he plays one on DL. And clearly flunked property law. This is not a copyright issue.
It's a major undertaking to open a store in a new country, and since much of this country doesn't have access to TJ's yet, probably not in their current business plan.
TJs doesn't have stores in many locations in the US, and I'm sure the logistics and legalities of opening a TJs in Canada would be overwhelming.
TJs should put him on the payroll to market their stuff through his store on a permanent basis.
Saw this guy on CBS Sunday Morning and was totally with him until his Canadian obnoxiousness began shining through. "We should have the same rights to access everything Americans do..." etc.
It was obvious he's just just another Canuck seething with hate at all things U.S. and the fact the company has a legitimate claim against him seemed to make him even more pleased with himself. Just very smug and entitled.
I have no idea why Trader Joe's isn't in Canada, they should be. But if someone is usurping international trade laws and infringing on someone else's trademarks and such, they deserve to be shut down and sued for any damages they've caused.
Trademark, not copyright. And they are not required to let him shop at their stores.
P.S. - If he is using their name in ANY WAY to make a profit and reselling their goods without a resale and/or wholesale agreement, then the company does indeed have a very clear path to win a judgement in its favor.
Despite what eBay and Craigslist has taught us, you can't simply just resale goods and products made and marketed by someone else when you're doing it on a large scale. This man has sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the TJ's products. He will not win an unbiased judgement.
r20 Please explain how they TJ can legally keep him out of their stores?
This makes complete sense to me.
Obviously someone at TJ's assisted him, probably for a kickback.
I just can't imagine anyone thinking Trader Joe's is worth a cross-border smuggling scam.