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Oct 7, 2003 03:11 PM

Trader Joe's, Hadley, MA, Now Open - Am I Missing Something?

  • j

Returned home after a weekend in Vermont to find the new Trader Joe's on Route 9 in Hadley open for business. After a walk-around, up and down each aisle, I'm left with a single question - Why all the fuss? Am I missing something? (Okay, two questions!)

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  1. They've got the best frozen foods I know of-- especially their fish, and their house brands are tastier and cheaper than what you can get at the regular supermarket or even the B & C. I like their dried fruits and nuts especially.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Erika

      This is true, but if you are like me, you will always need to go to another supermarket after each trip to Trader Joe's, to stock up on the stuff that they don't have (a decent beer selection, baking stuff like simple bags of sugar, decent choice of fruit).
      Kinda makes each trip to Trader Joe's irritating for me.

      1. re: johnnym

        Trader Joe's is not, nor does it claim to be, a full-service market. It's a specialty food store. It's rather silly to be irritated at it for not being something it doesn't promise to be.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          And yet I remain irritated. I think it's because it's so close to being a full service market, without being one. I don't mind going to a bakery for bread, cheese shop for cheese, produce place for fruit, etc. But it bugs me that Trader Joe's ALMOST has everything I need, but never finishes the job. Plus that produce section is so pitiful, and the fruit goes bad quickly.

          1. re: johnnym

            This is the differene between me and most other people. I love grocery shopping and going to as many stores as I can! In any given week I'll go to Stop & Shop and Bread and Circus once, Serio's and State Street Market five times each (yes, five!), and maybe an Asian or Italian specialty market. I'm not one for making lists, and when I do it's multi-store! I can't wait to go to TJ's!

            1. re: port

              *sniff* I miss Trader Joe's. Used to stop off there on my way home from work (the Brookline store) when I lived in Boston; it has a fantastic selection of frozen things at low low prices. I actually go there every time I'm back in town to visit family and drag the stuff back to Maine, and my sister will bring TJ's stuff with her when she visits (guess what I got for my birthday this year? Yay!). TJ's is not about the produce section -- I used to go to a local Asian grocery for my fruits and veggies -- but it has unbeatable prices on both gourmet goodies and good-for-you basic staple foods.

              Things on my permanent, whenever-I-get-a-chance TJ's shopping list:

              unbleached #4 coffee filters (huge box for about a quarter of the price of Melitta ones)
              the Bay Blend coffee (dead ringer for Starbucks house roast)
              dripless Danish candles - 8 tapers for about $2.70
              Canadian pure maple syrup - big bottle, small price
              the pineapple curry marinade/dipping sauce is to die for!
              giant boxes of Altoids, big chocolate bars
              chocolate-covered fruits, nuts, and coffee beans
              biscotti (they used to have a gingerbread/white chocolate one that was dreamy)
              organic soup base (corn, butternut squash, veggie broth) - half the price I'd pay in my local store, same *exact* item.


      2. re: Erika

        The frozen foods section was definitely the standout area - no question. What disappointed was the pre-packaged vegetables . . . what if I only want one or two tomatoes, not three, or just one avacado? My once-through-the-store-quickly feeling is that unless I get into the habit of buying some product in particular at Joe's, there's little justification for an extra stop when most, if not all, of the items on my food grocery list can be found at Bread & Circus. That said, I will give their frozen fish section a try.

        1. re: Erika

          And there is always 2 BUCK CHUCK !

          1. re: BBK

            2 Buck Chuck - Great. Fred Franzia's way of screwing up the wine industry...Notice the name FRANZIA. Ring a bell? He also makes Crane Lake, Forest Glen, Forestville and the like...for a couple of bucks more, why not look at Chile, Argentina, Spain, Australia, heck, France or Italy. You spend more for better food, why not spend a couple of bucks to have a better a little!
            Examples: $4.99 Protocolo Red, White, Rose: $4.99 Castanio Monestrell: to your local wine merchant...there are some great finds out there!!

        2. s
          Science Chick

          Been shopping their for several years (Boston). When I first walked through, I didn't get a true sense of what they had that was good. On subsequent visits, it starts to sink in. I routinely by all my olive oils and spreads, cheeses, jams, peanut butter, maple syrup, natural cereals, dried fruits, nuts, frozen items, snacks, crackers, COFFEE and, if you are lucky, some decent wines. Yes, you can get alot of this stuff elsewhere, but I challenge you to get the quality for the price. No, I don't do all my shopping there, maybe once a month for staple items. Definitely not for produce.

          Try again and try a few things!

          1. Trader Joe's has the best giant chocolate bars - over a pound each - the semisweet chocolate with almonds is heavenly and the price can't be beat. Just tried their frozen organic pizzas. Excellent, especially when you add toppings, and again the price is right. Hard-to-find Kenya AA coffee beans, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, cereal, frozen chocolate mousse cake, frozen cheese cake and pork pot stickers are a few of the items we stock up on twice a year when we visit family in Larchmont. We come out with at least 8 packed shopping bags and savings of $100 or more. At least the new stores are heading in the right direction (north) with the opening of the latest one in Hadley. Take a closer look, if you're a true foodie you'll be delighted.

            1. I, for one, am ecstatic that it has finally opened and spent the afternoon blissfully browsing the aisles -- came home with two bags full of ridiculous, but delicious treats -- chocolate covered dried cheries, decaf chai latte mix, peanut butter stuffed pretzels, barbecued shredded chicken-ready to heat and eat, some frozen shrimp, a couple of interesting looking wraps - tandoori chicken and something else....

              Is this "staples" shopping? Absolutely not, but I hate going to the regular store and buying the same things every week, only to spend way too much time thinking about how to make interesting meals out of dull ingredients. And it kills me to pay Bread and Circus prices to put up with their snotty attitude.

              To me TJ's offers an opportunity to have a pantry full of yummy and interesting things and for someone who works at home, this is a godsend.

              So if you want to give it another try after adjusting your expectations, find me for advice on what to toss in your cart -- I'll be the one loaded down with wasabi peanuts, low-fat dogbuscuits, way too many things in puff pastry, and about fourteen bags of coconut covered cashews. It ain't practical, but then neither am I!

              1. All the previous posters are telling why TJ's is successful. There are two TJ's within 10 miles of my house in northern New Jersey, and each is equally good. It's NOT a supermarket. The produce is often prepackaged, ridiculously expensive, and even lousy. However, nearly everything else is very good to unbeatable at extremely reasonable prices. I don't know about the Hadley store, but here the stores carry excellent breads in addition to what everyone else mentioned. Also, the cheese selection is huge, and the prices are unusually low.