Meet Mike Hallatt of Pirate Joe’s

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Mike Hallatt and Barry Hogan. Photo credit: T. Jerven

Like most weekend shoppers, I found it impossible to walk by Pirate Joe’s (2348 West 4th) without peeking inside and sampling Christmas chocolate. As Janelle blogged, Pirate Joe’s has just moved to West 4th from their old digs on Broadway. And more significantly, Pirate Joe’s has survived its first year in business selling Trader Joe’s goods to eager Canadians. It seems “Redistributing fine foods,” – their tagline/motto/slogan – is a winner.

I talked to Mike Hallatt, owner of this grey market business, and his cheerful first mate Barry Hogan about their idea. Mike and Barry are irresistibly fun. I should also add that they dress in pirate get ups and the interior of the store resembles a pirate ship, complete with ribs  and keel. In answer to the most pressing questions about their adventures on the open seas: Yes, they obtain the Trader Joe’s goods legally. Yes, Trader Joe’s knows about their existence and hasn’t made them walk the plank.

Despite the occasionally dubious shopper, the majority of Kits residents who wander inside are excited, and racing for their favourite Trader Joe’s items: gluten-free cookies, chocolate bark, chocolate covered potato chips, essential staples which escape me at the moment… The prices are cheaper than Whole Foods, comparable to Greens and only slightly more than Trader Joe’s USA-style, obviously factoring in the border trips.

Last modified: December 4, 2012

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