Those Canadians are ruthless. “Neighbors to the North” my ass.
An enterprising/dirty rotten smuggling Canuck by the name of Mike Hallatt has been ferrying the goodness that is Trader Joe’s original foods, which we all know and love, like those Veggie Corn Dogs, Two-Buck Chuck and, of course, life-affirming
crack-infused Speculoos Cookie Butter, up North and selling them to his fellow Canadians in Vancouver. That’s right. Hallatt loads up a giant, white van full of Trader Joe’s stuff and sells it at his own store in Vancouver at a markup.
CBS News’ Mo Rocca was “embedded” with Hallatt on a routine shopping trip in Seattle, where Hallat was preparing to load up on a delicious, lucrative food run. When they arrived at the store, Rocca asked Hallat if this was a store that he has frequented before. His response? “Yeah. Well, I’ve been thrown out a few times. So it’s a difficult play. But it’s a great store, they’ve got a lot of stuff.”
A CBS News hidden camera followed Hallatt, who also goes by the name of Pirate Joe’s on Twitter, on his shopping trip, which you can check out here.
Hallatt first fell in love with TJ’s when he lived in the Bay area on a budget, and hooked his fellow Canucks on the good stuff. “So I’d get some tamales home, I put ’em in the microwave as instructed. Best thing I’ve ever had. I lived on the frozen food section at Trader Joe’s for three years.” And the love affair has never faded. Hallatt estimates that he’s spent about $800,000 at Trader Joe’s over the years.
All the guy does is go into Trader Joe’s stores, buy a bunch of stuff, load it all into his white, unmarked van, and drive it across the border. A bunch of TJ’s stores have banned him, so he had to turn to using disguises: “I would try whatever I could to keep the business going. And in one terrible sequence of events, I ended up getting into a muumuu with a straw hat. I needed to put nail polish on, of course.”
But the craziest part? What he’s doing is completely, 100% legal. That’s why Trader Joe’s sued him in 2013 and LOST.
“If you own something, you’re legally entitled to do anything you want with it, including selling it to your friends in Canada,” Hallatt said. He bought all the stuff, paid duties for it at the border, and they’re not even remotely counterfeit.
He’s the Canadian Han Solo – smuggling stuff, and being really fucking polite and above-board about it.
He believes what he’s doing, which includes an operation with a bunch of U.S. based “shoppers” that buy goods for him, isn’t hurting Trader Joe’s; in fact, he’s increasing their presence internationally. In an impassioned plea at the end of the piece, he tried to reason with the purveyor of delicious snacks: “I’m really sorry. But we have to do this. Just love your tamales. We love your chocolate. And you’re just too far away from us. So we’re just gonna take matters into our own hands. Please open in Vancouver.”
Can’t blame the guy, can you? He’s doing good work. TJ’s, help the guy out…or at least trade the cheap food for cheap prescription drugs? Sounds fair, right?
[via CBS News]