Say it ain’t so, Pirate Joe’s

Vancouver grocery reseller waves white flag in battle with Trader Joe’s

Unless you’re a certain waterlogged Johnny Depp movie franchise, pirates tend to have a limited shelf life. Such is the case for Kitsilano grocery reseller Pirate Joe’s, which closed its doors Wednesday night after years of legal battles with the litigious mothership, Trader Joe’s.

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The American grocery chain was not a fan of the Vancouver business, which launched in 2012 and gained notoriety smuggling Trader Joe’s cultishly beloved products north of the border and reselling them to the Canadian public at a markup.

And after a cease-and-desist order, a drawn-out trademark infringement case and a crowdfunding campaign, which only raised $5,885 of a targeted $50,000 towards legal costs, Mike Hallatt, the owner of Pirate Joe’s, finally decided to raise the white flag.

Response to the closure was swift and predominantly sympathetic to Hallatt’s doomed cause. British news outlet the Guardian referred to Pirate Joe’s as “a rebel Canadian grocer.”


The New York Times described Hallatt’s business as a “maverick distributor” and “renegade reseller” while trotting out the trusty metaphor of David-vs-Goliath.


CBC could not resist the David-vs-Goliath either. 


Of course, customers voiced their collective devastation with a sea of tweets, Facebook posts and the go-to emotional expresser of our time, gifs. 


On the bright side, for hungry Vancouver hearts craving Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels and corn and chili salsa, there are close to a dozen locations between Vancouver and Seattle. The closest one is in Bellingham, 85 kilometres away, or 53 miles, if you’re in an American state of mind.

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