There is no Trader Joe’s in Canada.
Imagine — maybe you don’t have to — you’re Canadian. You’re at a dinner party, and the host has put out a bowl of the best snack you’ve ever had. Love at first bite, and it’s going fast. Soon enough, your fingers graze the bottom of the bowl and you realize that the end is nigh. You master your panic.
“Host,” you chime. “Who makes these chocolate caramel peanut butter mango pretzel chip things?” You wait with bated breath and weird, crumb-covered lips.
“Trader Joes,” he replies, and your heart shatters. This dinner party is in Vancouver. A trip to the nearest Trader Joe’s in Bellingham, Washington costs hours in travel, and in line waits both at the border and in the crowded store. Just thinking about it causes the snack, once so sweet and savory, to turn acrid on your tongue.
Your host notices your grimace and chuckles. “Chill dude,” he says, with smiling eyes. “I bought these in Vancouver. You can too.”
Your mind wrestles with the information, “There’s a Trader Joe’s in Vancouver, now?”
“No, there’s a Pirate Joe’s in Vancouver.”
What unfolds then is a tale of entrepreneurship, adventure, legal turmoil, and something called “the grey market.”