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Trader Joe questions

So I finally went to Trader Joe's, and I have a few questions:

Is it always so crowded....lol?

Do they only sell food products with there brand name? And if so, is it superior in quality to other well known brand names?

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  1. In NYC, it is usually crowded but the line moves fast. I've been there just before closing where there were no crowds but that meant less cashiers so it took longer to check out.

    Most of it is store Brand. That's what makes it different than other good markets and keeps cost down. However, TJ does carry certain items such as Clif Bars and Pellegrino, for example.

    1. Roughly how long do you actually wait when the line's curving around at the back of the store? I've never stayed because it always seems slow, but I'm line/wait-phobic in general.

      1. YES--it is ALWAYS that crowded. One time I saw the line just about going out the door. It moves relatively fast--usually 20 minutes at the worst.

        Their name brand products are a mixed bag--hate their granola bars, cereal and yogurt (some of the premade meals are pretty bland); love the frozen pizzas, cheap frozen veggies and thai lime peanuts/cashews.

        Does anyone know when they get deliveries? Many times I have gone and my favorite products are out of stock. And am I the only one who finds the cashiers to be unusually perky and nice? It freaks me out a bit--it's NYC, I'm used to Duane Reade cashiers who won't inturrupt their conversation to acknowledge you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: erikka

          A helpful cashier told us that the store receives deliveries each night to restock the entire place when closed from 10PM - 6AM. It also stocks items throughout the day as well.

        2. I dunno, maybe it's because I'm from here, but I always find the uber-perkiness a little scary. I can never decide whether they're wannabe-actors showing me how well they can play the part of a helpful clerk or if they're just made to shout motivational slogans while doing calisthenics before their shift starts.LOL

          Thanks. 20 minutes is way too long to stand on a grocery line unless one's subsistence depends on it, but I'll use that as a guide in case I ever manage to be there when the line's shorter.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeG

            I think most of those perky workers are recruited from the NYU dorm above them -- still with that new-from-out-of-town smell on 'em. Wait until they become jaded graduate students and they'll spit on your purchases a la Duane Reade.

            There is no line when going on off-hours. Weekdays during bankers' hours are pretty empty.
            As for deliveries, they get them all the time every day, according to the manager. Sometimes it's just a matter of having someone check in the back, sometimes you're out of luck. Due to their constant product introduction/discontinuation, it's not a good idea to become attached to any specific item.

            1. re: Pupster

              I have also found the line to be very short during weekday lunches. I usually go during then to pick up a few things and go back to the office. Unfortunately no major shopping or anything frozen since I have to lug it to the office and then home again, but it beats the lines after work.

          2. One way they keep costs low is by not always restocking house brands--that is, if they run out of, say, TJ's frozen Thai postickers, they might not bring them back for weeks or months. For this reason, hard-core afficionados will stock up on fave items. (I love the roasted tortilla corn chowder, which I think is far better than most jarred/canned soups anywhere). And yeah, the cashiers are uniformly friendly. Love 'em.

            For more specifics on the store's process of creating the house brands & stocking them, you might try the California boards--that's where the store started and customers have been serious devotees for decades. These was also a long NY Times article last spring about product development.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hot Dish

              From reading those boards I get the feeling that the products they carry there are much different than what they offer here - more fresh fruits, prepared foods, etc. And the Chuck there is truly two-buck (unlike our store). Do we have the bastard child TJ?