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Trader Joe's once again tops the annual Wish List of retailers and restaurants that readers say they'd like to see open in the Fredericksburg area this year.
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While Trader Joe's has consistently headed the Wish List since it was launched in 2003, the likelihood that one will open here is apparently slim. Company officials are notoriously tight-lipped about disclosing any sites has under consideration, and none of the dozen Trader Joe's stores under construction and listed as "coming soon" on the company's website are in Virginia.
The Fredericksburg area also has enough stores selling groceries to give any competitor pause, even if its demographics were attractive, according to Jeffrey Metzger, publisher of the grocery industry trade publication Food World.
He said that Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods stores in the Washington metro area do best inside the beltway, where income and education levels are higher than in surrounding areas.
While Stafford had the seventh highest median household income of any county in the United States, according to Census Bureau data from 2010, it also had one of the smallest populations of the top 15. Population density is one of the factors that companies such as Trader Joe's and Cheesecake Factory consider when scouting locations.
Perhaps this area will have better luck attracting one of the many other suggestions submitted by nearly 200 readers. The list included 60 specific retailers and restaurants, as well two requests for a sit-down restaurant on U.S. 17 in Stafford and one for a Kroger in the Massaponax or Thornburg areas of Spotsylvania County. There was even a request for a zoo.
A number of the requests have appeared on previous lists. Donna Catarevas, for example, once again asked for a La Madeleine French Country Cafe, adding that her biggest wish is that the restaurants that are already here would "TURN DOWN THE VOLUME!!!!!"
Other requests were new to the Wish List. Ben Rhines sang the praises of Q Barbeque, which has one location each in Glen Allen, Midlothian and Richmond.
"Our son lives in Richmond and got us hooked on it," he said in an email. "We think it is the best barbeque we have ever had."
A couple of people even said they either didn't want to see any more retail businesses open or suggested that some of the vacant store fronts in the area could be turned into office space for telecommuters.
"Who could actually buy stuff when jobs are needed first & foremost?" Hopwood wrote. " there has to be SOME way to make things more effective other than just sticking in another store that is destined to fail because people struggle just to afford shopping at it."
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
The top 10 in the 2013 Wish List Poll: 1. Trader Joe's 2. Cheesecake Factory 3. Harris Teeter 4. Whole Foods 5. P.F. Chang's 6. White Castle 7. Stein Mart and Fresh Market 8. Apple, REI and Romano's Macaroni Grill. 9. Dirty Dick's Crab House 10. Sit-down restaurants on U.S. 17