As reported by 24 Hrs Vancouver, Michael Hallatt, owner of Pirate Joe’s, filed his defence this month after the retail chain sued him in Washington State. Hallatt said he has spent more than $350,000, and legally imported the groceries and re-sold them in his tiny Vancouver shop.
Because Trader Joe’s doesn’t exist in Canada, Hallatt says his business poses no threat. Some products — such as chocolate peanut butter truffles or stoned wheat thins — were even initially manufactured in Canada.
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Hallatt maintains that since he bought the products, no one can stop him from selling them to hungry customers.
“The value-added I’m providing is just a different way of accessing these products for Canadians than getting in your hot car with a bunch of screaming kids.”
“I bought it,” he chuckles. “I can do whatever I want with it.
“All I’m doing is putting it on some cedar shelves, opening on 4th Avenue, and playing some jazz in the background. We try to help people find stuff they’re looking for.”
For one Kitsilano regular, the lawsuit is a case of David versus Goliath.
“It’s just another company being a big bully,” said Barbara, who wouldn’t give her last name. “This little shop is great.
Vancouver business lawyer Timothy Murphy told 24 Hours it’s telling the case wasn’t filed in Canada. To do so, Trader Joe’s would need to prove they sold products here — and also that customers might confuse the two companies.
“Based on the fact that Pirate Joe’s appears to publicly disclaim any affiliation with Trader Joe’s, (that) could be difficult to prove,” Murphy said.
But just being in the legal right can’t predict the outcome.
“In commercial disputes, David does not always beat Goliath,” Murphy warned. “In fact, it is usually the opposite. Trader Joe’s clearly has deeper pockets than Pirate Joe’s.”
Have you shopped at Pirate Joe’s? What’s your ideal outcome?
Pirate Joe’s, 2348 West 4th, Piratejoes.ca
Last modified: August 19, 2013