After my visit to Zeppe’s Italian Market and Fruitful Yield, I still had staples on my list.
It’s one thing to pay $1-2 more on an item if it prevents me from having to run across town to multiple stores. I’d pay triple that in gas.
But, my cereal was $2 more (and I needed 3 boxes), flour was also $2 more (needed 3 bags), and I didn’t want a $15 ginormous bag of raw sugar. So, really I was going to save over $20 at my other store.
Truth be told, I was really missing it. I was craving its friendly atmosphere, its neat-organized rows, I missed my $2.99 organic cereal…
My name is Stefanie and I am a Trader Joe’s addict.
I know. I know.
Geographically, Trader Joe’s has come along way since 1967; the store itself has pretty much remained the same (I’ve actually read the book about its creation!).
I love that they only carry a specific number of products at a time, although that also means some of my favorites aren’t there year round.
Trader Joe’s isn’t in every state, so that still makes them sort of small, right?
Here’s the deal- I’ve known plenty of people who’ve gone there & hated it- moreso- they’ve said they just don’t get it.
If you are brand loyal, it’s probably not for you. If you get an absurd thrill coming across items like Double Creme Brie, Sundried Tomato & Pesto torta, Pear Cinnamon Cider, Corn & Chili Tomato-less salsa- then Trader Joe’s is for you. If not, Casey’s Market is right next door (in Naperville, anyway).
I tried Casey’s Foods, I really did. It’s one of the last family owned grocery stores around. It’s been here since 1991 and has a very loyal following. Maybe it was just the night I visited (freezing-ass cold), but I thought it was dirty and the employees were not helpful. I had never been there and asked where to find the flour- I basically received an “over there” with a head nod. Ask a Trader Joe’s employee, and they’ll walk you to the item.
As far as Casey’s goes, it seems like just a mini-grocery store. It’s your same aisles of Kellogg’s, Heinz, and big-name products. I don’t want Oreos, I want Peppermint Jo-Jo’s with their crushed candy-cane filling. Why buy Rice Krispies, when I can get TJ Rice Cereal that’s essentially the same thing, minus high fructose corn syrup and it’s only $1.99.
Maybe that’s why I love Trader Joe’s- and my lure toward small businesses in general- I like seeing different products, I’m not particularly brand-loyal, and I’d really love to work there in one of their Hawaiian shirts!
Trader Joe’s just feels like a neighborhood grocer should. It’s not pretentious like Whole Paycheck, but you can still get most items organic and/or without high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated garbage, or artificial colors.
That said, this year is about shopping small- so I truly only bought a few staples: cereal, flour, sugar- I begrudgingly walked past the Mini ice cream cones and blueberry chèvre. Produce, dairy, deli, meats & seafood will be found elsewhere.
I think the bottom line is, small or not, if I don’t feel good about shopping there and the items I purchase, I don’t want to spend our hard-earned money with that business.
So, come on, there has to be other Trader Joe’s junkies. What are some of your “must-haves?” Who’s heading out for their virgin TJ experience? We’ll help with product suggestions!