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Trader Joe's Brooklyn

So it's finally true - there was a press conference today to announce Trader Joe's is coming to Brooklyn - at Court St & Atlantic Ave. (between Bklyn Heights, Downtown Bklyn, Boerum Hill & Cobble Hill and across the street from Sahadi's).

It's expected to open in 2008 according to the Brooklyn Eagle's online report - http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categori...

With Fairway over in Red Hook, Whole Foods on the way at 3rd Ave, and CSAs popping up all over, Brooklyn is changing - I leave it to you to decide if it's for the better or worse - but certainly there are more options than ever.

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  1. I think that's a little too close for comfort for Sahadi's. I really like the people of Sahadi's too. It's definitely going to have an ill effect on their business. Plus there's a Key Food right up the block too. Talk about competition.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      How is having more bargain-shopping foodies into the neighborhood bad for Sahadi's?

      1. re: EJC

        EJC, let me ask you this. Since we're referring to bargain-shoppers, which of the two businesses will have or offer the *better* bargains?

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          I don't think you can compare the two... is the product overlap really that great? When I think of Trader Joes, I picture frozen foods, cheap booze, and cases of Clif Bars.

          You can't do 100% of your shopping at Trader Joe's (or Sahadi's, or the Key Food), so people will continue to shop at the several stores on Atlantic like they always have.

          1. re: EJC

            I agree. I think that those of us with more discerning taste will continue to go on our regular jaunts for quality foods and not be influenced by someone like TJ's (who is lesser quality, and cheaper). I *will* happily shop at both, Sahadi's and TJ's. For me, it will create a one-stop-shopping experience because now I can do ALL my shopping in Brooklyn and not have to make a special visit to 14th street, Manhattan.

            For those of you who haven't been to a Trader Joe's, a lot of what they stock can be considered shelf after shelf of "impulse buying" items. I think most Brooklynites will continue to buy their essentials elsewhere.
            There are bargains to be had, so be aware ... ; )

      2. re: Cheese Boy

        That Key Foods is HORRIBLE!
        I'll dance a jig if TJs puts them right out.
        As far as Sahadi's it'll only help them...

        1. re: Larry Brooks

          I agree. I'll dance with you. If we can get a group, maybe we can do this: Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaHmcC...

          A correction though: that Key Food is FILTHY and horrible.

        2. re: Cheese Boy

          I dont care about key food bec the store sucks and deserves to go out of business. Sahadi will be fine, they are a beloved brooklyn institution and this will bring more shopers to the area and may actually improve business for them. look at union square.

        3. I don't really understand the enthusiasm in NYC for TJ's. Maybe its because I lived in San Francisco for years where we had plenty of TJs. I cant think of anything I'd want there that I cant already get in the neighborhood. About the only thing we used our local one for in SF was buying wine and champagne in bulk at good prices for parties. It's a lot of freezer products. And I don't recall it having an in house butcher, just a meat case of packaged stuff.

          What's all the fuss about? :)

          Plenty of inexpensive staple stuff to be found at the likes of Sahadi's.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Nehna

            Totally agree. When the first NYC TJs opened on 14th St, I immediately went to check it out because I'd heard it was pretty much the second coming of christ. I walked along every aisle and saw only frozen foods, boxed foods, saran wrapped foods, plastic container foods and some lousy produce. Walked out without a thing, and haven't been back.

            If we end up losing local favorites Sahadi's, Cobblestone Foods, Andy's produce, Fishtales, or Staubitz to TJs, it'll be really tragic.

            1. re: oolah


              I visited TJ on 14th Street once, and that was enough for me. Bought nothing, and never had the desire to go back.

              It seems to me that TJ is just another mega corp with ordinary product and super advertising and lots of hype and hokem.

              Here in Brooklyn, we don't have to have their pre-packaged, frozen, saran-wrapped foods, we have access to real food, at the merchants oolah mentioned, plus FAIRWAY, GREEN MARKETS, and other local favorites.

              TJ's will not be able to sell wine and liquor, which is their mainstay in other places. NY Law does not allow stores that sell food to sell booze.

              SAHADI'S retail is just the part of the iceberg visible to the public. Their mainstay is their wholesale business, selling to vendors and restaurants all over the country.

              More traffic is certainly good for any business area, but I hate to see an over-hyped, plastic wrapped company like TJ use its multi million dollar advertising and promotion machine to try and sell people their hokey brand when the same thing is available from real family owned businesses like SAHADI'S and FAIRWAY.

              1. re: Fleur

                Really? I didn't know that...how does it work that corner shops can sell beer alongside food? How does that rule work? Curious.

                I had always heard that TJ's in union square planned to carry wine. Not sure if that ever happened, I've never been or had any desire to go.

                1. re: Nehna

                  NY has a firm division between liquor stores that are allowed to sell wine and liquor, and stores that sell food which are only allowed to sell beer.

                  Contrast this with restaurants that can get a beer and wine only license, or a "full" license which also allows them to sell liquor.

                  I do not know whether the TJ's in Union Square ever had wine, but if it did it would have to be in a segregated area with a seperate entrance.

                  1. re: deepyarn

                    Yep, it's a separate store a couple of doors down.

                    1. re: hatless

                      The 14th St has a separate liquor store, but there won't be one here, or anywhere else in the state. I'm not sure of the exact specifics, but NY has some kind of law that generally prevents chain liquor stores from operating more than one location of their store within the state.

                      1. re: oolah

                        True. Only one liquor license per operator, and TJs has already used its up on Union Square. So no wine for Brooklyn. Of course there have been several TJs operating successfully in the NYC suburbs for a number of years now without selling wine, so I don't think that alone is seen by the company as a hinderance.

                        But I must say that, even back when I lived in San Francisco, TJs with all of its pre-packaged convenience foods always seemed like much more of a suburban thing to me. I usually only went there for the cheap wine and spirits. Otherwise it felt like something pitched to the stuff a few weeks worth of groceries in the back of the station wagon or SUV type crowd. It will be interesting to see how well they do in an NYC urban neighborhood (rather than a destination area like Union Square, or a place with parking like they will have in Queens), which already has a full array of stores. And for those of us with cars has Fairway, with its far superior produce, fish, etc. selection - and a parking lot - a very short drive away.

                        1. re: Woodside Al

                          I guess I won't be going then either, the only thing TJ's is good for is cheap booze.

                          1. re: Woodside Al

                            Been going to the Trader Joe's in Woodhaven since it opened, and I can offer the following comparisons to local choices. For produce, it is extremely hit or miss, but sometimes they have very nice cauliflower, or mushrooms, and some bargains on fruit. Their shallots tend to be nice, but it in no way compares to Natural on Austin Street which is where I do most of my produce shopping, and I was doing quite a bit at Stop and Shop in Glendale but their produce section has gotten very poor in the last several months, always out of stock, and things look bad.

                            Trader Joes is great for cereal and breakfast bars-good prices. They also have the Fage yogurt and tzaziki which is good. They are good for kid stuff also. They are great for the frozen haricot vert. For chicken breast, they are expensive, and the quality and price is much better at Metro Meats on Metrop--they are really good there and Bell and Evans.

                            For fresh fish, I stick with the market on Lefferts in Kew Gardens, for frozen shrimp TJ is ok but Coscto is a MUCH better value, and shrimp are from Thailand, not Vietnam or INdia like TJ's. Nuts are good value at TJ's but their pistachio's are lousy, they are much better at Carmel on 108th st in Rego Park. Dried fruits, specifically prunes are good at TJ's, but apricots are tasteless there, and much better at Carmel. Vanilla Soy Milk is great price at TJ's and my son lives on it, almost 1/2 the price from Stop and Shop. Yogurt is good price at TJ's. Some tapenades and dressings are excellent too,, and I get these all the time. One really good item they have which is on a par with Whole Foods, is their canned tuna and salmon. Excellent quality.

                            So, for certain things TJ's is a good value, but no, it is certainly not one stop shopping by any means, and alot of the food gets boring fast.

                            What we really need in Queens is a Citarella type place--but better..with some beautifully prepared foods and market foods to buy.--This is what I'd like to see....

                    2. re: Nehna

                      Supermarkets and other food stores are permitted to sell beer. No wine or liquor.

              2. Hasn't Sahadi's been there forever (ie, when Bklyn Hts and a bit of Cobble Hill were just about the only gentrified parts of Brooklyn?). I welcome having more options; I think there is plenty of room for more options in the neighborhood. What would the naysayers prefer? - a Gap or a Duane Reade???

                4 Replies
                1. re: Bookistan

                  exactly. tj's is a welcome addition to the area.

                  1. re: oolah

                    But look at the building in question... a mom and pop shop could never afford the rent, nor fill the massive space. Before Trader Joe's moved in, the rumors were of an Urban Outfitters. Given the necessary evil of a chain store in this space, I think we came out on top with TJ's.

                  2. re: Bookistan

                    Well, that's not entirely accurate. The Heights have always been nice (maybe not that stretch of Atlantic), and Sahadi's was originally in Manhattan. They moved over when the Levantine community in Lower Manhattan was destroyed by the building of the Battery Tunnel.

                    1. re: Bookistan

                      Actually, the owner was negotiating with Loehman's before TJ

                    2. If it means that Sahadi's and Thriftway (American) will clean the dust off the bottles on their shelves its fine with me. Sahadi's has some major holes - like the food at their deli counter its not so hot and the layer of silt on thier provisions by the checkout. And I am sick of buying beer with dust on it at American - it always makes me wonder about the qaulity. Oriental has no reason to fear that place is a gem.

                      I think this is good for Brooklyn- it will give court street and atlantic avenue the kick in the ass it needs.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ljubitca

                        We are not crazy about Sahadi's. We actually prefer the trip to Manhattan, to Kalustyan's on 28th street & Lex, even though it is a real shlep compared to just going to Atlantic.

                        1. re: FoodWine

                          Love KALYUSTAN , but the selection is not as vast, ans the prices are much, much, higher.

                          But their Honey Pecans are expensive, but outrageous, and not found elsewhere. The quality of their crystalized ginger is the best as well... but it is $11.95 /lb.

                      2. Plenty of tabs to click on: Home, Articles, Products, Recipes, Forum, and Contact Us.

                        Trader Joe's fanatics site: http://www.traderjoesfan.com/

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          I think you hit the nail on the head: Trader Joe is a yuppie cult thing, designed to lure money out of the pockets of fanatics.

                          1. re: Fleur

                            Actually Trader Joe is very cheap, as opposed to some of the nicer places you guys have mentioned...like Staubitz and Fishtales for instance...I simply can't afford these places. I wish I could. Trader Joe's has some good things, very good dried fruits nuts for a really good price (yeah, sue me, I think they are better than Sahadi's for dried fruit, even if it's pre-packaged). Trader Joe's is cheap decent convenience food mostly. You are comparing apples to oranges with references to these other places.

                            1. re: prunefeet

                              When I was thinking of 'overlapping' products, those were the first two things that came to mind: nuts, and dried fruit. I really enjoy the quality of Sahadi's roasted almonds. Also, TJ's offers convenience to those of us who sometimes have to shop late...they're open till 10pm.

                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                I question whether TJ will be able to maintain those late hours.

                                If there were customer demand for late night shopping, every place in the Heights would not close so early. This is not a late night neighborhood.

                                The truth be told, there is little business after 8 or 9. If there were, more places wouold be open.

                        2. does anyone know if TJ's will be opening any other NYC locations anytime soon?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: qwertyu

                            There's supposed to be one opening in Queens, according to NY1. I think they said Woodside, but I'm not sure.

                          2. Folks, we've removed some off topic posts and would like to remind everyont to please keep the discussion here focused on the local chow scene. If you'd like to share tips on what's good at Trader Joe's, please either start a new thread on the Chains board (where Trader Joe's goods are discussed), or join in on one of the threads currently running on that topic. Thanks.

                            1. I will continue to shop my neighborhood "mom n pops" for produce, cheese, etc. but I might make regular stops downtown to pick up some things at Trader Joe's - cheap whole wheat crackers, whole wheat tortilla chips, tuna for cats, etc. Also, horror of horrors, I eat FROZEN veggie "meats". The Morningstar sausage links are at least a dollar less at TJ's than any other place I've seen.
                              I've only been to Sahadi's once while on jury duty because I couldn't justify going that far out of my way for just a few things. With TJ's and Sahadi's in the neighborhood, I will definitely save at TJ's then splurge at Sahadi's. In my case, Sahadi's just got themselves a new regular.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: PAnhandler

                                Does anybody have any idea what hours they keep?

                                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                                    I was really referrring to TJs as most places close before 8 - anything open after which TJs will - is going to have an upper hand.

                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                      I don't understand the comparison of Sahadi's with TJ. Target is not putting boutiques out of business. Maybe those cheapy clothing stores. It seems to me people who do not like TJ are trying to gain sympathy by bringing up a lovable business. My guess is that the people who are really screwed are the dollar type stores, and some smaller supermarkets/delies/bodegas.

                                      I would also say that TJ will give employement opportunities with carrier potential to many people.

                                      1. re: Geo8rge

                                        Sahadi's sells many of the same items noted here as TJ favorites like dried nuts and fruits, chocolate, coffee, spices, snacks and baking ingredients. It's also a familiar beacon to the scores of newer New Yorkers who have poured into the city from around the country and have never heard of Sahadi's, and benefits from a significantly larger marketing budget.

                                        I hope the posters to this thread are right that this corporate behemoth will somehow help the food market in the area, but this isn't unwonted hysteria -- there's a real threat here.

                                1. As a fan of both Trader Joe's and Sahadi's, and someone who lives a 7 minute walk away from Sahadi's (and therefore the new TJ) I've been watching this conversation with interest, holding back to see if I can learn something new. Here's my take on the situation:

                                  #1. This is a solid location for TJ. Lots of residential foot traffic at night and on weekends, lots of municipal and court employees during the weekdays, and an area with a good diversity of high-end and specialty food stores (Perelandra, Cook's Companion, Stinky Brooklyn, Staubitz, Sahadi's, etc.)

                                  #2. This will add a LOT more life to that corner. God knows it needs it. It's a major intersection and it's got absolutely nothing going on.

                                  #3. Trader Joe's is not perfect but they do have a VERY low prices, a LOT of unique items that are hard to find elsewhere, and if you take a moment to look... just like Sahadi's, they have something for everyone.

                                  (For those of you turned off by the crazy checkout lines in Manhattan, know that most stores nationwide don't have that problem and that hopefully with the opening of this store (and the one in Queens) the lines won't be bad at any of the stores.)

                                  #4. Trader Joe's will help Sahadi's sales, not hurt them. Why?

                                  First, there's not a huge overlap in their goods.

                                  What do I buy at Sahadi's? Smoked almonds, inexpensive spices, really interesting jams, excellent olive oil, various canned and jarred international items that are less expensive there than anywhere else.

                                  What do I buy at TJ's? Chewable vitamin C. Inexpensive organic breakfast cereal, great dried cherries, really cheap Luna bars, Niman ranch pork, pre-cubed proscuttio, frozen organic vegetables, a variety of those addictive cookies...

                                  What do they BOTH sell? Honestly, not that much. Olive oil and vinegar, some kinds of dried fruit, maybe spices, some dried pasta, some bulk chocolate (does TJ sell spices? Even if they do they won't be as affordable as Sahadi's -- Sahadi's has CRAZY low prices on spices).

                                  So, why will TJ help Sahadi sales? Because 1) they don't overlap in goods very much and TJ will bring a LOT more grocery shoppers to the block. Heck, people come from all over the city to go to TJ on 14th St. And people come from all over for Sahadi's. I think a lot of people who are devotees of one of the two will see the other, check it out, and find a lot to love. Everyone wins! (Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Charlie Sahadi himself checked out the goods at TJ, saw the lack of overlap, and worked with Two Trees to get TJ in there.)

                                  #5. Lastly, hopefully TJ will give Sahadi's a kick in the pants when it comes to their lackluster cheese department. TJ has a relatively narrow cheese selection but very low prices and very high quality because of rapid turnover (and those low prices).

                                  I've always wanted to like Sahadi's cheeses but I find them disorganized and much worse, of suspect quality because of the balky refrigeration and low turnover. Either Sahadi will improve the situation or as I predict, stop selling cheese altogether and put the space to use for something not quite so perishable.

                                  ...Ok, that's my take on the whole situation. Let the debate ensue!


                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Peter

                                    I went into TJs on 14th for my first visit last week and before I could even figure out what it was about, I got annoyed by all the people standing around with their carts. When I realized that was the checkout line I walked out. I will NOT be going back.

                                    I also checked out the wine shop next door and didn't see anything there I would buy, just a lot of mass-market wines that I stopped buying years ago. I have a neighborhood wine shop (Ackerson's on Cortelyou Road Brooklyn) that carries a lot of different wines from around the world at very good prices, and they've been very reliable in their selections. I almost take it on faith now that their $15 wines will be worth it and not something you want to pour down the drain.

                                    1. re: zacfi

                                      The lines move very fast, actually, especially the express line (which still allows you to have 12 items). Agreed on the wine shop though - a total failure.

                                      1. re: zacfi

                                        It's so funny that you mention a wine comparison between Trader Joe's and Ackerson's. I recently bought a great marlborough Sav Blanc from Trader Joe's for $6.99...and saw it in Ackerson's for $14.99. Can't remember the name now but I know I recognized the label when I saw it.

                                        1. re: zacfi

                                          tj's wine prices are very reasonable and if you know what your looking for you might get a real gem. Comparing it to Ackerson's on Cortelyou Road Brooklyn is ridiculous.

                                      2. Another problem with TJ is going to be the lack of parking.

                                        Almost all the good shops like SAHADI'S, DAMASCUS BAKERY & TWO FOR THE POT close at 7. The area is totally dead after 7 .

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Fleur

                                          Then I guess parking won't be a problem after 7. :)

                                          1. re: rhodes553

                                            Two Trees owns both the TJ's building, as well as the apartment building across the street with a parking garage.

                                            Seems likely that they'll offer parking discounts for customers.

                                          2. re: Fleur

                                            Anyone looking for parking in Brooklyn is a menacing turd. Stated earlier was that it was great that Trader Joe's will be open late which is hard to come by when it comes to food in that area.

                                            1. re: Ljubitca

                                              Hmmm. Menacing turd-- that's a new one!

                                            2. re: Fleur

                                              Parking hasn't seemed to be a problem at the 14th St. Location. Lines still are pretty common, and it's packed to the gills on the weekends, despite a 2 block walk to the subway. THis will be about the same walk to the Boro Hall stop.
                                              Bottom line for me, and a lot of New Yorkers, is price. I'm all for farmers markets, mom-and-pop shops, and and, of course, Sahadis. The problem is, Farmers markets are not year round, and mom-and-pop are more expensive, bottom line. I'd rather pay my mortgage and $1.69 for a half gallon of organic soy milk than $2.50 for the same milk and not get the bills taken care of.
                                              To those who think TJ's is full of "impulse items", do you think aisle after aisle of unusual sauces, organic frozen broccoli, soups, beans, healthy prepared meals, organic ground meat, and recycled paper products are impulse items?
                                              As someone who travels a lot for work, I'm always happy to go somewhere I can find a TJ's. Consistent quality in a changing world is important.
                                              I'll always prefer Sahadis for olives and spices, but TJs will always be on the weekly shopping list.

                                            3. Enough about the other boroughs lets get to the heart of the matter - when is the new projected opening for trader joe's in brooklyn?

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Ljubitca

                                                There's extensive ongoing at the moment - they've built a wooden arch behind the facade on the Court Street entrance. Windows are papered over, though. Crossing my fingers that not only is it a good store, but that they enhance the beauty of the location.

                                                This will be a boon to local markets like Sahadi's, Fish Tales, and Staubitz, who all offer something that Trader Joe's doesn't.

                                                1. re: lambretta76

                                                  We like the produce/grocery store on Pacific & Court, which is spitting distance away. Besides lobbing a strategically aimed Molotov cocktail across the street, I hope they can share in the bounty.

                                                  1. re: MShapiro

                                                    Pacific Green is great for many things but so bad for others - twice I came away with pasta that had white bugs in it. The items that they turnover are great and the ones they don't, sit there for eternity.

                                                    1. re: Ljubitca

                                                      I think the produce place on Atlantic is much better, though I never buy pasta there.

                                                      1. re: chocolatefancy

                                                        pacific green what we were referring to is on court and pacific

                                                  2. re: lambretta76

                                                    I dunno about the boon. Sahadi's yes. But if you put the premium prices of Staubitz and Fish Tales up against TJs sizeable meat and fish section, it'll be a tough competition. Yes, of course, Staubitz and FT are top quality and TJs meat and fish are frozen but their prices are nothing to laugh about.

                                                    Fish Tales fresh tuna is $18 a pound or more? TJs frozen tuna steaks are like $6 a pound. Sure there is a quality diff but in this economy...

                                                    1. re: Larry Brooks

                                                      I was on Court Street today, TJ's was taking job applications.

                                                      1. re: Eggsactley

                                                        Peaked my head in the open door on Friday afternoon. Lights were on. Lots of food was already stocked on the shelves. It looks really great in there with those amazing high ceilings. I would guess they're going to make good on their wish to open this month.

                                                        1. re: bhill

                                                          Brooklyn Paper reports that they will open on Sept. 26th. http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/...