Vancouver's Pirate Joe's shuts down, ending legal battle with Trader Joe's
Published Thursday, June 8, 2017 6:15AM EDT
After years of selling products from U.S. retailer Trader Joe's in Canada, a B.C. businessman has ended his fight against the grocery giant.
Mike Hallatt, the owner of Pirate Joe's – a store that resells merchandise from Trader Joe's – is throwing in the towel in a long-running legal dispute. On Wednesday night at midnight, after five years in business, he closed his doors for good after coming to an agreement with Trader Joe's.
"I had to face the music," he said. "I got myself into this, so I had to get myself out of it."
Trader Joe's first sued Hallatt in 2013, citing copyright infringement and false advertising, alleging that Pirate Joe's was hurting its brand and profits in the U.S.
The shutdown of his store comes after he recently set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his most recent legal battle against the retailer, set to start in the fall.
Hallatt denies claims his business model was suffering, only that he couldn't afford to keep fighting the court battle.
"If we were going to trial, it would be just prohibitively expensive for me," he said. "And as an individual, I just can't get there from here. We're agreeing to disagree on the merits of the case."
He maintains that his practice of selling merchandise from Trader Joe's was covered by the first sale doctrine, a legal concept in the U.S. where a person can resell a copyrighted product.
Long-time customers, who have become friends with Hallatt during his run as a storeowner, say they're disappointed to see their neighbourhood store shutter.
"Mike's the kind of guy, when I first met him, I'm thinking 'Who is this crazy guy trying to do this crazy venture?'" said one of his customers, Jacqueline Tupper. "And then the more you know him, the more you loved him, the more you supported him."
Hallatt wouldn't reveal what he had planned next, only telling people to watch the store space.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Benjamin Miljure