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Trader Joe's Products (2002–2011)

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It's been really interesting reading these posts. I first heard about TJ's when planning our wedding and other brides were using TJ's for cheap goodies. Now there is a strong rumor that a store is going in two blocks from my parent's house. It should be interesting to check out!


"Vegetables aren't food. Vegetables are what food eats."

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food.craft.life.

The Lunch Crunch - Our daily struggle to avoid boring lunches

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Trader Joe's has huge expansion plans for 2006. They are adding a distribution hub in Atlanta in order to open more stores in the South. Every new store evolves out of the distribution hubs. New stores are opening in markets with existing distrubution centers.

A major focus is being made to listen to customer requests and suggestions. It really has always been this way, but the documentation process has been refined so that information that comes from stores gets to corporate quicker.

Regarding "shrink wrapped veggies". These products can be found in the produce section next to the bagged lettuce. They are actually prepped vegetables that are fresh and very easy to prepare. French green beans, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, whole roasted, peeled baby beets are some of the offerings. Try them, they are of excellent quality and they help you to get right to your recipe with out alot of the hassle of having to prep first (like cutting and peeling butternut squash).

Check out the new Eggplant Caponata, chunks of eggplant, tomato and onion. It is a jarred product on the grocery asile. Also, as many of you know, many of the products at TJ's are the same products that you would find at high end stores, but with the Trader Joe label and at a lower price. For example the goat cheese packaged in brown and black with the TJ label is actually Laurel Chenel goat cheese, an artisan producer from Sonoma County, California.

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I am surprised that anyone has had problems with TJ's milk products. In every store I have visited, and I have been to many in SoCalif., the deliveries of milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese and etc., are all wheeled from the truck right into the walk-in refer that has pass-through to the display shelves. The cheeses, meats and other deli items are rolled out on carts in small batches and are rapidly placed in the cold display cases.

I have never had a problem with any of their products. I have occasionally found an item that was outdated the same day or next day and have shown it to a clerk and had them take it away and bring out the product with a much later date.

I like the packaged vegetables and fruit because I find they have fewer bruises than in regular stores where stuff is tossed around by other shoppers and gets bruised, fingernail punctures and etc.

I do look carefully at the items in the packages to make sure they are not past their prime.

If you have a problem with any of their products, speak up. They want to know if any customer is unhappy with any of their products.

I am a big fan of all of their dried fruit and nut products - I have yet to find any that are not superior to other commercial products. When I don't have time to make my own, these are my choice.

Whole foods markets are bigger and have more items and have their produce loose so one can pick and choose. The only problem for me is that there is no WF near my home.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Am I the only odd person around who really dislikes Trader joe's? Maybe it is just our local branch that is bad, but it seems to me to be just a purveyor of processed food. Everything is in a jar or frozen. They do have a produce section, but it is sad.  They shrinkwrap all the veggies! And the bread is stale and yucky. The cheese is mostly weird lowfat stuff.

That's exactly what I thought the first time I went to Trader Joe's. I walked in and all I saw was stuff that reminded me of Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals.

And then a Trader Joe's opened up just up the street from Whole Foods. I got hooked because they were selling Cabot butter :wub: at half the price. That changed but it's still cheaper than Whole Foods.

I've been on the lookout for smallish shrimp and found some rock shrimp at Dirk's but it was really expensive. I decided to look in the freezer section at TJs and was very happy to see that not only did they have them but they were half the price of Dirk's. I add them to Fettucine with Asparagus and Mushrooms even though the recipe doesn't call for them. I was trying to replicate a dish I'd had at Nick's Bar & Grill (the affordable part of Nick's Fishmarket). Yum. I think it's even better which is a good thing as they've changed the menu and the dish is no longer available. But I digress.

From reading this thread, I see that King Arthur flour is probably cheaper, too.

On the surface, TJs is all about pre-packaged meals. Scratch the surface and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

- Kim


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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I am surprised that anyone has had problems with TJ's milk products.  In every store I have visited, and I have been to many in SoCalif., the deliveries of milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese and etc., are all wheeled from the truck right into the walk-in refer that has pass-through to the display shelves.  The cheeses, meats and other deli items are rolled out on carts in small batches and are rapidly placed in the cold display cases. 

I have never had a problem with any of their products.  I have occasionally found an item that was outdated the same day or next day and have shown it to a clerk and had them take it away and bring out the product with a much later date. 

I like the packaged vegetables and fruit because I find they have fewer bruises than in regular stores where stuff is tossed around by other shoppers and gets bruised, fingernail punctures and etc. 

I do look carefully at the items in the packages to make sure they are not past their prime. 

If you have a problem with any of their products, speak up.  They want to know if any customer is unhappy with any of their products. 

Like I said, it really seems to vary with location. At a couple of the ones in Illinois, they seem to have a fundamental problem with shelving and other logistics. A lot of times e.g. I will be looking for one type of Total yogurt and they have it in the back, having not noticed that it was different from the type of Total they'd filled the shelf with. Evidence of mishandling dairy and seafood is very common. A container of chicken noodle soup I got was so off when I opened it (well before the sell-by date) that it was fizzy.

With this kind of thing, I'll speak up once or twice, but after that I just don't buy that type of item any more. It's not the product in general, it's the handling, and I doubt whether they want to hear lectures on things like shelving from me.

I still go there for Hansen's sodas, yogurt and a few other products.

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Trader Joe's has huge expansion plans for 2006.  They are adding a distribution hub in Atlanta in order to open more stores in the South.  Every new store evolves out of the distribution hubs.  New stores are opening in markets with existing distrubution centers.

This is the best news I've heard in a long time!!!! I'll be first in line when TJs comes to central Florida.

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Regarding "shrink wrapped veggies".  These products can be found in the produce section next to the bagged lettuce.  They are actually prepped vegetables that are fresh and very easy to prepare.  French green beans, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, whole roasted, peeled baby beets are some of the offerings.  Try them, they are of excellent quality and they help you to get right to your recipe with out alot of the hassle of having to prep first (like cutting and peeling butternut squash).

No, not in our store. The shrinkwrapped veggies are things like whole green peppers, tomatos, and broccoli, on styro trays with shrinkwrapping. i have never seen prepped vegetables in our TJs, which is interesting because even the local supermarkets have prepped vegetables. The produce section in our TJs is really miniscule.

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I'm a big fan of TJ's generally (I go to the Brookline, MA store), but I really only go there for dry goods, everyday drinkin' wine, and dairy. I occasionally pitch in for frozen meats and fish (I like the buffalo burgers).

I've never been a fan of the produce, which has been inconsistent, and I personally don't trust any fresh meat that comes from a place where I can't look the butcher in the eye when I'm buying it.

One interesting observation -- my local TJ is starting to sell Veuve Cliquot (the everday yellow label kind), which is certianly a nice development, but it's actually more expensive than the usual price. Not by much, probably about 5 or 6 dollars, but high enough to notice. Has anybody else seen this phenomena?

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ratgirl-I absolutely agree about the cheese and produce. Even though they have great prices on, for example, the Parmesano-reggiano, it seems to suffer from having lived in shrink wrap so long. I'd rather pay more at a place that cuts it fresh (or has high turnover). And to me the veggies look sad, but here in Seattle we have farmers markets, co-ops and even some grocery stores that all have terrific produce. Maybe if you live someplace without these the produce is better than what you'd get at your local megamart.

What TJ's is great for is basic goods like canned beans, cereal, crackers, tuna, frozen shrimp, frozen berries, sodas (like orangina and limonata), and non-food items like vitamins, toilet paper, sunscreen. and moisturizer. These items are not only priced lower than other stores, but they don't have the crap (like artificial ingredients or preservatives) in them you would find in "regular" grocery store brands. And even many of their their frozen prepared meals, the kind of thing I normally wouldn't touch, are decent. They got me through a kitchen remodel this summer and get taken to work for lunches sometimes.

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You lucky New Yorkers. You've got everything--the Union Square Greenmarket, Whole Foods, Balducchi's, Citarella, Zabars, Fairway, and now...

Trader Joe's to Open in New York


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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You lucky New Yorkers.  You've got everything--the Union Square Greenmarket, Whole Foods, Balducchi's, Citarella, Zabars, Fairway, and now...

Trader Joe's to Open in New York

True, all true, but WFM and TJ's have been in Philly for some time now, and there's the Reading Terminal Market to boot. That new DiBruno's has also closed the gap somewhat in terms of specialty foods.

Sure, there's no place quite like New York, but your new home isn't too shabby either.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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You lucky New Yorkers.  You've got everything--the Union Square Greenmarket, Whole Foods, Balducchi's, Citarella, Zabars, Fairway, and now...

Trader Joe's to Open in New York

True, all true, but WFM and TJ's have been in Philly for some time now, and there's the Reading Terminal Market to boot. That new DiBruno's has also closed the gap somewhat in terms of specialty foods.

Sure, there's no place quite like New York, but your new home isn't too shabby either.

No it isn't, Sandy. I do love my new home, but you can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I am surprised that anyone has had problems with TJ's milk products.  In every store I have visited, and I have been to many in SoCalif., the deliveries of milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese and etc., are all wheeled from the truck right into the walk-in refer that has pass-through to the display shelves.  The cheeses, meats and other deli items are rolled out on carts in small batches and are rapidly placed in the cold display cases. 

I, too, live in SoCal, and I buy my dairy exclusively from TJs. The organic milk has an excellent flavor and the heavy cream in the blue/white bottle is the thickest I've found. I can't go back to regular cream. I believe the milk products are regional, though, so choices vary widely around the country.

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People who have said they dislike Trader Joes:

I am with you.

I especially hate the one closest too my house in Seattle. They opened it up <b>1 block</b> from the local established co-op. (For Seattleites, this is the new Capitol Hill Branch, it's one block away from the Madison Market, which is probably one of the most respected markets in all of Seattle).

I find this too be strangely competitive and not at all sportsman-like. People in this neighborhood of Seattle tend not to own cars, and shop at whatever market is closest, but there is plenty of Seattle for all kinds of grocery stores and I don't understand why they had to open the TJs right next to the co-op. The co-op has been hurt severely by this, and isn't TJs talking the talk about the food and community and whatnot? Hurting the co-op is not good for my community.

I am a member of the co-op, and the only time I went into the TJs I was kind of creeped out. People have raved about the warm service and everything- I got the same kind of greeting that I do at Safeway (granted, the Safeway employees at my local one are very nice). I didn't see how this store was oh-so much better than the co-op.

I also agree that it's creepy how everything is packaged, especially the produce. I want to be able to pick out my own tomatoes, damn it! Also, I believe the packaging leads to waste, especially with the produce- when the date expires they have to throw it away whether it is good or not, which they would do in no other market. Plus, excess packaging is a great way to use up all those resources we're running out of.

I think I understand how TJs can be a windfall if you live in an area where the only choices are Krogers or Whole Paychecks, but how can urbanites be jealous at all at what TJ's has to offer? Especially in the NW or California, the produce is definately more expensive than what you can get in the other markets. Someone upthread said they lived in the Bay Area and thought 5 avocadoes for 4 dollars was a bargain? Those people need to get to the local Mexican market, stat.

I wish everyone who lived in suburbia could have as good access to wonderful foodstuffs as I do in the city, but I for one wish that Trader Joes never stepped foot in my neighborhood.


Edited by Arianna (log)

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People who have said they dislike Trader Joes:

I am with you.

I especially hate the one closest too my house in Seattle.  They opened it up block from the local established co-op.  (For Seattleites, this is the new Capitol Hill Branch, it's one block away from the Madison Market, which is probably one of the most respected markets in all of Seattle).

I find this too be strangely competitive and not at all sportsman-like.  People in this neighborhood of Seattle tend not to own cars, and shop at whatever market is closest, but there is plenty of Seattle for all kinds of grocery stores and I don't understand why they had to open the TJs right next to the co-op.  The co-op has been hurt severely by this, and isn't TJs talking the talk about the food and community and whatnot?  Hurting the co-op is not good for my community........

I am curious why the co-op has been hurt severely by TJ's? Is the TJ's THAT much closer (1 block) that people wouldn't walk just a bit more to go to the co-op? If TJ's prices are that much lower that so many people left the co-op, were they only shopping at the co-op because there was no place else to shop?

I am all for loyalty to local / mom & pop operations, and will even go out of my way to patronize them, but from what I gather from your post (and I could easily be wrong) many people left the co-op to go 1 block away for better prices or things they could not get at the co-op. Why, otherwise, would they not still shop at the co-op?

Thanks,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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I am curious why the co-op has been hurt severely by TJ's?  Is the TJ's THAT much closer (1 block) that people wouldn't walk just a bit more to go to the co-op?  If TJ's prices are that much lower that so many people left the co-op, were they only shopping at the co-op because there was no place else to shop?

I am all for loyalty to local / mom & pop operations, and will even go out of my way to patronize them, but from what I gather from your post (and I could easily be wrong) many people left the co-op to go 1 block away for better prices or things they could not get at the co-op. Why, otherwise,  would they not still shop at the co-op?

Thanks,

Kevin

Well, it depends on where you live whether you have to walk an extra block to get to the co-op or not. In my case, the co-op is one block closer.

What I am saying with that part is that I understand why TJs would want to center itself in my neighborhood- there is a lot of population density there, so there are lots of customers. But it's also a fairly large neighborhood, landwise- there are plenty of other blocks that are ready for re-development that they could have landed on, and also parts of the neighborhood that could really use a close-by grocery store. Its obvious that they have basically quested to steal this co-op's customers by setting up right next door.

People have stopped shopping at the co-op for some things because Trader Joes has the national distribution and buying power needed to undercut the co-op's prices. I hope people still go to the co-op for things like produce, since the produce is terrible at TJ's, but for the really high profit margin things like cheese and wine, people go to the TJ's instead because the co-op can't possibly beat their prices.

People forgo the co-op and go to Trader Joe's for the same reason people forgo their local any other kind of store and shop at Wal-Mart.

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Only seen at Trader Joes: Snackmasters Beef Jerky the absolute BEST of its kind, anywhere!! No chemicals, no preservatives, and only $4.99 for 4 ounces!!

And, TJ's is NO WalMart! They pay their average workers $21/hr, well above industry averages, provide health insurance, and they don't lock up any workers in the store overnight...

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Only seen at Trader Joes:  Snackmasters Beef Jerky the absolute BEST of its kind, anywhere!!  No chemicals, no preservatives, and only $4.99 for 4 ounces!! 

And, TJ's is NO WalMart!  They pay their average workers $21/hr, well above industry averages,  provide health insurance, and they don't lock up any workers in the store overnight...

Wal-Mart commits many worker abuse crimes, and I'm not comparing the worker treatment at TJ's to Wal-Mart. What I am comparing is the fact that both companies strive to put locally owned businesses under. A stone has many sides, but it is still a stone.

Also, here is a list of other places that Snackmaster's products can be acquired: http://www.snackmasters.com/availability.htm. Just so you know, it's not available only at TJ's.

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People forgo the co-op and go to Trader Joe's for the same reason people forgo their local any other kind of store and shop at Wal-Mart.

In my case, you are so wrong. I walk to my coop and neighborhood quick store (locally owned) but I drive to TJ about once a month for specific items that are substantially lower priced and things I don't find elsewhere - and to see what it is new. It is entertainment shopping, not exclusive. And I have never been to Wal-Mart but have shopped TJ's since 1979.

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Wal-Mart commits many worker abuse crimes, and I'm not comparing the worker treatment at TJ's to Wal-Mart.  What I am comparing is the fact that both companies strive to put locally owned businesses under.  A stone has many sides, but it is still a stone.

Also, here is a list of other places that Snackmaster's products can be acquired: http://www.snackmasters.com/availability.htm.  Just so you know, it's not available only at TJ's.

Most businesses in America want to get the better of their competition; however, since TJ's is so unique, I don't know what type of local business they could "put under". Are you saying the quart of milk I buy there will affect the supermarket? The almond butter sales will take out the health food store?

As far as Snackmasters, the only other reliable source for it is WF, and they charge more than double what TJ's does for it.

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I do not believe TJs is out to bury other markets, greengrocers or whatever. Late last spring I was in the TJs in Palmdale and mentioned I wished I could find fresh cherries (sour cherries, not the Bing variety) and the clerk told me that a couple of the orchards on Lake Hughes road (west of Palmdale) were open for U-pick and also had roadside stands selling picked cherries. The store "Captain" was bagging for her and he asked if I knew the area. I assured him I was familiar with the area but didn't know there were stands with already picked fruit. I am somewhat handicapped and can't go the U-pick route.

Another time when I asked about a locally-made fresh salsa that they had discontinued, they directed me to another store that carried it. (It did not sell well at TJs, probably because they have so many varieties of fresh salsa.)

Over the many years that I have shopped at TJs I have had similar experiences, as have other people I know.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Agreed! And unlike WalMart, TJ's has items that are unique to them--- they are really not taking sales away from other merchants. Maybe a slight effect on supermarkets, but they are not going to fold because of TJs. Service is usually excellent in TJs as well. They probably have good employee training, as most of those folks are very helpful and actually seem like they like their work!

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I've always thought TJ's locations, at least here in WA, were rather strange-they aren't ever NEAR anything. Totem Lake, Burien, Federal Way? And the others in Seattle aren't near, say, the PCC chain of coops, or really any other grocery. So I find it pretty hard to believe that they sited this one particular store on Capitol Hill, not because of potential customers/space availability/good lease terms/etc, but specifically to put this one coop out of business. If they were really trying to kill other stores, they would have sited their Seattle stores near the PCC's.

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I remember in my youth, going to Puget Consumers Coop (PCC) and even helping to paint the outside of the Ravenna store. There was a PCC for a while in Everett, but it folded, in large part due to competition from the Everett Farmers Market, another cooperative venture. So issues of food shopping as political statement no longer loom large in my life. I shop at the local TJs and am thrilled that they located a branch up here, one of two in Snohomish county.


Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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I especially hate the one closest too my house in Seattle.  They opened it up <b>1 block</b> from the local established co-op.  (For Seattleites, this is the new Capitol Hill Branch, it's one block away from the Madison Market, which is probably one of the most respected markets in all of Seattle).

I find this too be strangely competitive and not at all sportsman-like.  People in this neighborhood of Seattle tend not to own cars, and shop at whatever market is closest, but there is plenty of Seattle for all kinds of grocery stores and I don't understand why they had to open the TJs right next to the co-op.  The co-op has been hurt severely by this, and isn't TJs talking the talk about the food and community and whatnot?  Hurting the co-op is not good for my community.

I am a member of the co-op, and the only time I went into the TJs I was kind of creeped out.  People have raved about the warm service and everything- I got the same kind of greeting that I do at Safeway (granted, the Safeway employees at my local one are very nice).  I didn't see how this store was oh-so much better than the co-op.

I wish everyone who lived in suburbia could have as good access to wonderful foodstuffs as I do in the city, but I for one wish that Trader Joes never stepped foot in my neighborhood.

I'm right down the street from you, Arianna, and I really love the fact that Trader Joe's is in our area. I used to have to drive to the UDistrict to get my TJ's fix, and now only have to go a few blocks. I love Trader Joe's because I can spend about $50 to fed my family of three each week, and get some great quality items. Now, I don't buy fruit or vegetables there very often, nor cereal or cheese, but that's what the Safeway down the street is for, or the Madison Market across the street. And I would think that the Safeway down the street is more there to take business from the co-op since it was there before TJ's decided to come into that spot. But I digress....

There are certainly items that I cannot stand at TJ's, like the glass jarred soups that apear tasty but are so not. But I love the sparkling cider, the inexpensive Pound Plus chocolate, the trail mixes, the Soycutash frozen veggie mix, the cereal bars, and the great prices on good quality yogurt, milk, eggs and even doggie food. I also love Madison Market, but they don't have the selection or value that I need on a regular basis. I do think the neighborhood is better for both markets - and with the summer Farmer's market, it's just about perfect.

If you do go to TJ's, pick up some of the Banana Crisps (not chips). They are fantastic! And you can eat a bag of them and not get too fat! They were also sold out of them for about four months, so I am very very happy to report they have returned.

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