Canadian man sued for reselling Trader Joe's products

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- A Canadian business owner who buys Trader Joe's products in Washington and resells them at his own "Pirate Joe's" store in Vancouver is being sued by the very grocery chain he depends on.

There are 390 Trader Joe's in the United States, including 14 in Western Washington. But the grocery chain doesn't have any stores in Canada, and that's exactly what caught the eye of Mike Hallatt.

Hallett buys Trader Joe's products at the Bellingham store and resells them at his Vancouver store, which is appropriately named Pirate Joe's.

Without easy access to the real thing, Hallett learned many Canadians are more than happy to pay a little bit more for their favorite Trader Joe's food.

"Once you buy something, you can resell it," Hallett said. "It's free enterprise, it's how things work."

Hallett sees nothing wrong with his business model, but the higher-ups at Trader Joe's disagree. They recently slapped him with a federal lawsuit, claiming he's using false advertising, infringing on their copyright and injuring the company's reputation.

Company officials say their Bellingham store is dominated by Canadian customers, many of whom driver more than an hour to get there.

"They should just open up a store in Vancouver," said Canadian shopper Jessica Tung.

The company also claims one customer bought poorly handled frozen food from Pirate Joe's and got sick.

Hallett thinks the lawsuit is sick and is vowing to fight it.

"I've got to go to Trader Joe's surreptitiously. Are you going to put an armed guard out there?" he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting in front of a judge."