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Sep 7, 2007 08:12 PM

Is Trader Joe really that amazing??

As a person living in Florida I'm unfortunate not to have any Trader Joe
in our State... Is it really that great??
In pretty much any CH post somebody will mention TJ.
Are we gonna be ok without it? or is this the 1 missing thing in my life? ;-)

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  1. I think you will be okay without! Our closest store is two hours away and they have a few items I like but nothing worth making the trip for by itself. I used to really miss having one closer to home but we have gotten better local grocery stores so I have moved on.

    1. if your grocer choices are major food chains you will like TJ. If you have choices you will not understand the big deal. Hear in FFD county CT there are lots of choices and jfood went to TJ a couple of times. Then thinking he was missing something he called TJ and had a nice chat with the Regional director. He agreed that if there are lots of fresh fruit and meat choices it will not have the appeal (that's where jfood sits) but for many without the choice they will love it.

      So for jfood, can live without TJs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        I'm totally with jfood on this one. If one has choices, then Trader Joe's is not any where near the vicinity of a big deal. I went to the one by Union Square and did not understand the hype. My neighborhood is chock full of stores with incredible selections and prices. I found TJ had lots of processed foods, sad looking produce, sorry looking cheese in plastic wrap, and did not find anything I would consider unusual/unique. But I can understand that if your choices are only national chain supermarkets, then TJ might be an option. I also think (as other posters have pointed out) that where you are makes a big difference as to the *kind* of TJ you get -- it sounds like the ones in CA are way better than elsewhere.

      2. As jfood said, if you have choices, you aren't being deprived to begin with, so what's to miss. Where I live (small town of 45K on Calif central coast), we have precious few specialty items, e.g., trying to buy Boursin cheese for a New Year's Eve party proved to be futile, and evidently there's no such thing as ladyfingers in these parts. So for us, TJ's is a godsend. What I'd do a Whole Foods...

        1. In Loma Linda, CA when I went to dental school all the markets carried was white or yellow cheese. I thought I was going to be miserable until I found TJ in Redlands. There I could find gourmet cheeses and other produce that I was used to finding in the S.F. Bay Area where I grew up.

          As others have stated if you already have wonderful specialty grocery markets near you , then TJ will not be anything amazing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: septocaine_queen

            tj's is the kind of place that if you never had it you wouldn't miss it. (well, that may be true to almost anything...) but once you have one near by you won't be able to live without it. mostly b/c they have pretty good quality items for really low prices. tonight i bought a bag of penne for $.69 and a big can of crushed tomatoes for about $1.29 and a bottle of red spanish wine for $4.99. i was able to have a lovely meal tonight and some leftover for tomorrow for around $7. that's hard to beat for quality.

          2. A lot depends on how you cook. I realy like TJ, but I couldn't do all my shopping there.
            For me: What Doesn't Work- Produce: pretty basic & mostly prepackaged, Meat & Seafood, fresh: same, also many preped with seasonings. What does work: Good prices & selection of dried fruits, nuts. Cheese & applegate sandwich meats priced right, interesting, unusual frozen fruits & vegetables, many staples are priced nicely. Flowers & breads good too.
            If you cook mainly from scratch you'll find less. Friends who don't cook that way absolutely love the pre-made & preped items. What they do, they do well. They know their customer & work hard to keep them happy.