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Apr 1, 2008 08:06 PM

Pinole: Trader Joe's and fresh produce at 99 Cents Only Store

Trader Joe's will be opening in the shopping center near Red Onion. It is still under construction and not yet noted on the website.

The 99 Cents Only Store opened in the Del Monte Plaza and I was intrigued by the sign that advertised fresh fruit and veggies.

There are good produce days and bad produce days here. There are good values and bad values. On the first visit, everything was in stellar condition. On another visit a lot was rotting.

For a while they had perfect baskets of grape tomatoes for 99 cents. There were packages of three yellow bell peppers. Quarts of milk were 99 cents and yoplait yogurt was 39 cents ... not everything is 99 cents... it just tops off at that price.

There are some organic items like canned pumpkin 2 for 99 or Swanson's boxed organic chicken broth.

They have dairy items, cold cuts, meats, frozen items, bread, canned goods, etc. No alcohol.

Sometimes it is those little tiny sizes which allows them to meet the price limit. There's a mix of name brands and generic stuff. REALLY watch for expiration dates.

Also, some items are the same cost as at a regular market ... and sometimes more. People get caught up in the 99 cent frenzy and seem to fail to notice.

The store just isn't for me. It has that cluttered bargain store ambiance and for me there's not enough interesting stuff to warrant a stop. It is wildly popular with the locals and usually very crowded which also is a shopping turn-off to me. It's no Grocery Outlet.

99 Cents Only Store
620 San Pablo Ave, Pinole, Ca

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    1. I didn't even look at the produce the one time I went in, I guess I simply assumed it wouldn't be up to much. I too won't be back, I walked around once and then straight out the door - I did see a few good deals, but nothing to make me cope with the bargain basement style layout and products.

      A few things that I saw that was at least enough to make me stop and almost consider spending some money

      Cross And Blackwell Worchester Sauce
      Sea Salt

      Now the Trader Joe's, that's another matter. that should be a good addition around these parts

      4 Replies
      1. re: rob133

        saw a sign for a new 99 Cents only store opening soon in Berkeley on the east side of San Pablo Ave. about 50 yards north of University Ave. May have been near or replacing the Smart and Final at that location.

        their produce is not very good but they often have soy milk and a few other deli items for about 1/2 or 1/3rd less than Grocery Outlet. it's just another small addition to the area in the vicinity of the corner of University and San Pablo Avenues which includes Vik's, Kabana, Indus Village, De Afghanan Kabob House, & Grocery Outlet. The International Festival street fair held in that location last summer was one of the best street fairs that I've been to which included free music at Freight and Salvage.

        1. re: zippo

          Ah ... rats ... their site said a store was opening in El Cerrito on April 10th. The first 9 customers could buy an ipod for 99 cents. Don't know where the El Cerrito store is though.

          1. re: rworange

            this should be interesting. a video on the 99cent only cookbook:


            could that new store listng be for El Centro?

            1. re: zippo

              Could be ... thanks for not having me wander aimlessly around El Cerrito looking for it.

              I saw that segment live and have been trying to track down a web reference. Thanks.

      2. While it certainly different then the traditional "American" grocery stores, I find the majority of these stores absolutely amazing. I say majority of these stores because not all 99 Cents Only Stores are the same. Luckily, I've lived next to ones with a regular supply of local farm grown veggies and large freezer sections for ice cream, dairy, deli meats, etc. Some stores get stocked more often then others and if you know the stocking dates (or get lucky like I do a few times) you can get some amazing deals. Last week, I got a gallon jug of non-concentrate Tropicana OJ, 4 ripe mangos, a dozen eggs, loaf of Oroweat bread, and a jar of Ragu sauce! For a single guy in his 20s out of college, you cannot beat these deals! I probably wouldn't even be eating half the fruits and veggies I am now if I had to buy them at the normal prices! Speaking of which, I cooked my first broccoflower ( last month and I hate to tell my mom, but I think i'm a fan!

        For those interested, the best Bay Area store I've been to was (about 2 years ago at least) the one in Hayward. The best one IMO in LA is the one in Westchester by LAX. They are growing pretty fast and with the prices of things nowadays, always worth a second look:

        1 Reply
        1. re: chiefnaidu

          Congrats on your broccoflower. I'lll have to check out the Hayward store when I'm in that area.

          It is true that each store is different. It is always worthwhile to check out a new store to see what's worthwhile.

        2. Trader Joe's stores are definitely my spot to go when I cook at home. Their selection of different foods just amazes me sometimes. In fact, I just went there yesterday to pick up some items to cook dinner for my girlfriend. Mushroom puff pastries, alfredo, chicken sausage, and raspberry creme brulée for all under $16. For those who have one near you, go check them out! I'll post up pictures of my dinner so you can see what you guys can do too with a little bit of cash.


          1. My family will be glad to hear about the TJs in Pinole. They've been going to the one in El Cerrito for awhile now but they live in Hercules. I'm sure this TJs will get plenty of business once it opens up.