Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chains >
Dec 17, 2007 04:53 PM

Trader Joe's--I just don't get it

At the moment I'm writing this, there are 5, count 'em 5, Trader Joe's threads among the first 25 or so threads on this board. What is the big deal with Trader Joe's?? I just don't understand. I've been in there a few times, and to me it's a place with lots of unusual stuff, decently priced, but not anyplace I could do my regular shopping. But even if it were, why the huge level of interest???? It's Ok, but really........

I did a quick search of this board and apparently, assuming I did it right, about 12-13% of threads that have been posted have Trader Joe's somewhere in them, and mostly in the thread title.

I can't fathom it.

Am I just an old fuddy duddy (as my daughter claims)?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think it is a good store with some nice items. I would not go crazy for it. I will admit before going there to check it out, in another area I was visiting. I was wondering what all the hype was. They have good products , but I am not going out of my way to get their products if it is not near my home. You are not an old Fuddy Duddy. I think the word is down to earth!

    1. Yes, you are. Acceptance is the first step on the road to recovery and enlightenment.

      A decade or two ago, when Trader Joe's was sprouting its wings, I used to visit as an occasional addition to my grocery shopping at the supermarket. But now there are three in the area once served by one, and now I do my regular day-to-day shopping there and go to the supermarket for mass items on sale like paper goods, kitty litter, and Coke products. Trader Joe's is WAY cheaper and much better for the staples in my house -- milk, butter, bread, eggs, cheese, OJ, canned tuna, olive oil, and ice cream. You have to be somewhat careful about their produce, but sweet onions, zucchini, red bell peppers, and bagged lemons are much cheaper than the super. So I've got my basics.

      At that point Trader Joe's just becomes fun. Any new products I haven't seen before? Do I want some nuts? How about one of their delicious and inexpensive frozen desserts -- tortes, cheesecakes, profiteroles, more. What has an interesting description or unusual label and is a great value in the wine section? Need some beer that isn't Bud or Miller? Chocolates, candies, frozen fish, appetizers, spreads, soups? Haven't even mentioned the floral section at my store for barely half the price of the supers.

      TJ's is quick, convenient, a value. It is also fun. Customers, and staff, seem much happier to be there than the dour attitudes in the supermarkets. Sure, an occasional item will be a dismal failure (they'll gladly refund your money, even without a receipt or the leftovers) and many favorites go extinct. But for those who get it, Trader Joe's is just really, almost, fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nosh

        Nicely said, Nosh. It is a pleasant experience--good prices, you always find something new and interesting, the employees are enthusiastic and helpful, and the prices are good. So what's not to like?

      2. your not alone johnb,

        I dont get it either, nor do I have any use for TJ's.

        different strokes I guess.

        1. I can take it or leave it. But I'm fortunate to live in a city with so many shopping alternatives. If it were the only game in town, I could see how it could be a godsend.

          What I wish CH would do is to establish a separate TJ board.

          1. It's a place that unlike many chains is particularly suited to Chowhound and chowhounds exactly because of that combination you mention of unusual stuff and decent prices. They have unique things and some of it is very very good/delicious.

            Why it generates the passion and passionate disagreement to the level seen on this board, I have no idea. As you note, many people seem very concerned with the notion that they can't do their regular shopping there....which doesn't really comment on the individual items that are worth going to the shop for. Perhaps the level of conversation is because it isn't all things to all people but since it's a "grocery store" folks think it should be.

            I'm a fan of many of their products (including the coffee, nuts and dried fruits, frozen turkey meatballs...)