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Trader Joe's

I just returned from a trip to St. Louis and LOVED shopping at TJ's, and Target for that matter. Unfortunately in Canada, we don't have either of these stores. Target isn't THAT unique, but we don't really have a store that bridges the gap between Wal-Mart and a department store.
Based on the references to Trader Joe's across the Boards on this site, one can see how popular it is.

My question is, what stores exist in other cities/countries that you would love to have in your community?

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  1. I've heard about Trader Joe's but have never visited one. Im sure I'd love it. Bring them to Houston!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheflambo

      Houston's Central Market is great. It's not the same as TJ's. But great for a grocery store.

    2. I love Trader's and miss it when I'm not near one. Also, I've noticed that major department stores vary GREATLY from major cities to smaller ones. For example, shopping at Macy's in LA is a pleasure. I always find plenty of kitchenware and clothes, including the elusive petites. But when I'm in the Southeast, it's slim pickings. The stores are actually much smaller than in LA or NY. I've been told that it's because these stores are actually the Hechts that Macy's bought, and they don't carry the full array of a true Macy's.

      1. If I could just drive down to Galeries Lafayette (complete with the third-floor food market!), instead of having to fly to Paris first, I would be one happy guy. As it is, having something like eight Trader Joe's markets within 15-30 minutes' driving distance is a pretty good thing, almost alone making our move from Nashville worth it. But then when we make our annual trek back there, I hit the groceries and stock up on Martha White and White Lily flour and cornmeal, dry-cured pork products, and two loaves of Pane Bello from Bread & Co. Ain't nowhere perfect, I guess...

        1. Penzeys has made it all the way to Portland, OR, but no store in Seattle yet. I wish they'd hurry up and open one here!! World Spice is great, but my last visit was a reminder of why I try very hard to not go anywhere near Pike Place Market between late May and mid-September (they call it tourist season, so why can't we shoot them??)

          My other longing is for a store like the Liquor Barn chain in California...but for that to happen, Washington would have to get rid of its antiquated, reactionary, utterly stupid liquor laws that give woefully-inadequate, inconvenient, overpriced state liquor stores a total monopoly on booze here.

          1. you know, i've wanted to say that i'm really unimpressed with tj's for a while now. i've listened to folks from all over the place talk about tj's this and tj's that and how that's where they get all of their blah blah blah, so i thought it was going to be spectacular, and i was all lined up to go when they were putting one in just outside of MSP.

            so we went and long rant short were completely underwhelmed. poor quality produce that seemed an afterthought and nobody's priority, not the good prices on fake meats i'd specifically gone there to shop for, got some mixed nuts that were stale and overspiced to make up for it, and overall crappy selection, scary customers too. i did get some nice soap that i liked very much, but i'm not going back unless i'm dragged. i thought that we'd had the bad luck to get a really bad new tj's-- then after a while i noticed that i haven't met anybody from my town who's at all impressed with any tj's, anywhere. i think it's because MSP is the co-op capital of the u.s.a. & the co-ops and regular grocery stores here are big & pretty enough to compete with t.j.s, so the store is more geared towards the suburbanites around here who aren't into food that much.

            to answer the question, i wish there were more non-chain stores in my area. in particular we need some more small italian grocers. i don't like buying underpants and fresh lettuce in the same store, maybe just me though. i also hope to see wine for sale in the grocery store in my neck of the woods soon, as it is in california, that would be a great improvement, and it's in the works!

            5 Replies
            1. re: soupkitten

              I hear what you're saying. Apparently MSP has improved since I lived there in 1997/98 - at that time I found produce expensive and unimpressive.

              To put it in perspective, here in Toronto, population 4+million, we cannot buy liqour in the grocery store, and the government regulated 'liquor and beer stores' are not open on holidays. Some of our big chain grocery stores have yet to get decent 'ethnic' sections, when we're one of the most multicultural cities in the world. However, we do have great independent grocers, but the average person wouldn't know where to look for them.

              What I was impressed with at TJ's were things like a pack of creatively seasoned cashews ('Capitola Cashews'), 6.5 oz bag (180g) for <$5. Also, a large container (350g?) of pre-sliced, pre-cooked, seasoned chicken breast for $4.99 ... here it would cost more for unprepared chicken. Sushi trays were all under $4, as were prepared salads, and everything was fresh, ready-to-eat - great for travellers staying in hotels (I don't usually buy pre-prepared). I got California Chardonnay for $2.99 (although I still haven't tried it). TJ's body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc. were only $1.99 - good quality, couldn't find even the cheapest no name brand for that price here. Soy/whey protein powder for $7.99.There were free samples, great selection and friendly, knowledgable staff. The cheese selection was pretty good, with decent pricing. They even had cheap, tasteful greeting cards! No underwear though, which I could have used when my luggage got lost on DELTA AIRLINES!

              1. re: thenurse

                Back to the OP, I would LOVE to somehow have the whole Harrod's magically dropped down in my part of town!!!! : )

                1. re: thenurse

                  I love the cheese selecion at TJs and the prepared foods are excellent. No, they do not specialize in produce. But they have great jarred sauces (Indian, Thai, Italian, etc.), great food for shortcuts, and their fresh meats, while not s huge selection, are very good. In LA I got hooked on their pre-marinated uncooked carne asada. I would portion it into fridge and freezer and sear it up one burrito/taco at a time.

                  1. re: thenurse

                    yeah MSP is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were 10 years ago-- you should see lunds and byerly's now, they hold their own with the co-ops, or vice-versa. and i think we're totally spoiled on some things and also "undernourished" on other fronts-- very few artisan butchers, next to no kosher delis, etc. but even the low-end regular grocery stores here have amazed our out of town guests with selection and prices. i should edit my rant and say that i'd shop at a tj's in another town out of curiosity-- and i'll check out the greeting cards! maybe my prob with tjs is that it is all prepackaged processed foods-- healthier than regular grocery store stuff perhaps, but a turnoff for me because i'm a scratch cook. :)

                  2. re: soupkitten

                    I'm with you. We (semi-recently) got one here in NYC and I went early on. About the only thing that impressed me were the miniature shopping carts. Fairway ought to get some of those! Otherwise, I thought the selection was rather mundane. Actually, I can't recall much of a selection of "fake meats" there either.

                  3. I'm a TJ's fan for their cookies, Brie cheese, frozen salmon...their frozen asparagas is absolutely wonderful. You won't be able to do all your shopping there, I don't usually don't do their produce, but their "Just the Leaves" green and romaine lettuces are fabulous Bakery items are hit and miss. Local "specialty" stores are way out of my price range, I don't want to pay 3 times the price for Brie just to support local business. Plus TJ'S are really great to their employees. I consider my town (Eugene, OR) extremely lucky to have Trader Joe's.

                    1. I, too, love TJ's. I also love that the big chain supermarkets in Los Angeles vary what they carry based on neighborhood. For example, I grew up getting things like Calrose rice, tortillas, yaki soba noodles, and baby bok choy at Vons. There are certainly better ethnic food markets in this city (Ranch Market 99 for Asian foods and Vallarta for produce and all things Latin American), but I enjoy that one can buy more interesting things in many decidedly non-interesting stores.

                      1. I used to love the TJ's in LA -- great wine prices! -- but now that I'm in the Philly area, Wegmans is my store of choice. This is what a store should be. Great prepared foods, meats, cheeses, produce, kitchen accessories, ethnic foods section, and their grocery prices are even lower than some of the regular supermarkets. And every week there are free items available with their coupons. Love it! Although I still drop into TJ's now and then (their grilled chicken slices are a weeknight miracle), if it disappeared tomorrow I woundn't miss it that much.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: froghollowguy

                          Agree about Wegman's. Visited a N. Va. store while visiting relatives and fell lin love with the place. We just got a TJ's here in Pgh., so I shouldn't complain, but would be at Wegman's everyday if they ever come this way!

                        2. I wish we had a Whole Foods in my area, like the ones in BH and LV.

                          1. when i lived in atlanta years ago, i used to love, love, love 'harris teeter.' of course, that was back in the '90's, and 'whole foods' hadn't exploded yet. i'd still like to check one out now & see how it measures up to my memories...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              When I lived in Toronto, we loved the snacks at Marks & Spencers - shrimp chips and potato rings...of course, we moved to the States, then M&S closed all their Canada stores. I went to Hong Kong a few years ago and hunted down an M&S just for a taste of those potato rings!