AT HOME IN HEATH: GRASSROOTS EFFORT WOOS SPECIALTY GROCERY CHAIN
It happens more frequently than I want to admit. I go to an event and come home the chairman of something. Poor Bill! That usually translates into imposing on him for something. He rarely gets to just show up and enjoy anything. Instead he ends up sitting at a table registering people, bringing an ice chest of iced beverages or staying afterwards to clean up. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still happens.
Trader Joe’s Call-to-Action Meeting
So, my weekly Wednesday Bible Study was over. We were gathering up our things to leave when a new member of the group asked me if I knew about Trader Joe’s? Did I ever? We discovered it when we lived in California, had been thrilled when they moved to Dallas and were loathe to leave it to move out here in the boonies.
Come to find out there was a community meeting that evening about getting Trader Joe’s to come to our area. I assumed there would be a representative from the company there to test community’s interest, so I promised to go. Instead, there were a few Rockwall city and county officials and twenty-five or so citizens.
One of the officials got up. First, he explained the criteria most companies used to choose new locations and why we fell short of most companies prerequisites. Then he talked about a development board that went after industrial-type companies to boost our economy and then explained why Trader Joe’s did not qualify for that program. Finally, he let it be known that everyone was well aware there was a groundswell of interest in having a Trader Joe’s in the area, but there really wasn’t anything the city or county could or would do about it.
During his talk the man referred several times to the four or five items Trader Joe’s had on their list of requirements, but he never mentioned exactly what they were, how many we met and how far away we were from meeting the rest. So I asked. He said he’d get us the information, but we haven’t seen it yet.
Then the meeting continued and we found out City of Rockwall Council Member Scott Milder and his wife Leslie had taken our interest a little further than the other gentleman. They’d talked to a Trader Joe’s store manager and found out there were indeed criteria the company had for new locations (which the store manager didn’t know) but because of the company’s culture they paid a lot of attention to customer feedback – like location requests on their website, subscription addresses on their Fearless Flyer and social media.
The next thing I know they are asking for someone to represent the community in our efforts to get the grocery chain to our area – the term they used was “point person.” The room was suddenly very quiet. Something told me the silence wasn’t going to go away and I also knew few in the room had as much experience with social media and organizing volunteers as I had. I glanced at my husband to see what he thought and then raised my hand. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but Trader Joe wasn’t going to die from neglect on my watch.
After the meeting I handed out my cards to anyone who wanted one and collected the list of attendees from Bethany Browning, the Community Relations Manager for the City of Rockwall. I was suddenly in charge, but I was quite unsure exactly what that meant. The rest of my week was very busy and the next time I even thought about Trader Joe’s was the following Tuesday.
My first call that morning was from Bethany. Sebastian Robertson from Channel 8 News was coming out to talk to Scott about the Trader Joe’s meeting and the Facebook page. Bethany thought it would be good to have a representative from the community there, so she called me. My other choice for the morning was cleaning house, so I went to City Hall.
When he arrived, Sebastian took Scott outside and interviewed him. The process took about twenty minutes and they pretty much covered everything that needed to be covered. I thought I’d missed my fifteen seconds of fame. We walked back into the building and into an office. Sebastian sat me down and set up the camera. I was about to be on TV, but I hadn’t combed my windblown hair or touched up my dry-as-a-desert lips.
The results of the interview are in this video: WFAA Channel 8 News. I had been involved in the project for less than a week and I hadn’t done much of anything except show up for a meeting and hang out at city hall. Still Sebastian made a star out of me, in spite of my windblown appearance.
Getting My Ducks in a Row
In the days since the interview I’ve been getting organized. I sent out a few emails and posted some notices on social media sites. That, along with Channel 8’s report has caused a flurry of activity on our Facebook page. The page has gotten about a thousand likes since the meeting in early February. The site had only gotten 2300 likes in the year and a half it has been up, so I’d call that progress.
Please like our Facebook Page. You don’t have to be from the area and no salesman will call. If you do live in the area, then check out our new webpage. The site gives you a list of things you can do to help the cause and you can subscribe to stay abreast of developments. If you’d like to really get involved, just let me know. I’m sure I can find something for you to do!
I’m getting more organized every day, but I’m still making it up as I go. If we get that Trader Joe’s in Rockwall County, I’ll let you know.