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Apr 26, 2009 07:08 PM

Trader Joes Buying Power [split from St. Paul Trader Joe's thread on Midwest Board]

All the bakery, dairy and floral items are provided locally, not nationally. There are different "Fearless Flyers" with different products in each US region.

There have been numerous posts on the chains board about how Aldi is owned by a family member but is not part of the ownership of TJs.

The buying power is limited in that they get closeouts and divide them among all of the stores. (an example from an old FF is : "We bought up the last 3000 pounds of this product and so each store will only have about 350 pounds to sell") The 'store brand' items (Trader Jose's, Trader Josef's, Trader Darwin's et al ) are pretty much nationwide, however I noticed the only TJ tartar sauce sold in Southern California is flavored with jalapenos and the only tartar sauce available in Michigan is plain tartar sauce under the same TJ label, so each store is not at all an exact copy nationwide like some mass marketers.

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  1. The Albrecht Brothers own TJ's. The Albrecht Brothers own Aldi. Both use a high proportion of store brands. Aldi uses 95% store brands. TJ's percentage is much higher than any grocery chain. They use volume power to cut prices and have effectively kept Wallmart at bay in Germany. They are trying to open 75 stores in U.S. market this year. TJ's is not a warm fuzzy. They are very savvy. Local foods emphasis in Northern California stores was un-discernable. I haven't shopped them in the MSP market because we have the best cooperative food stores in the country, hands down.

    6 Replies
    1. re: keg

      I think that from a local perspective TJs may be lacking but they earn warm fuzzy points (from some people) for treating their employees (and customers) better than most chain supermarkets.

      I wholeheartedly support your perogative to vote with your pocketbook, but i think youre coop versus TJs framing is a bit of a straw-person argument. Yes we should appreciate and support our coops - and the health of the TCs coops is a testament to this support.

      But in the interest of a fair and reasonable debate, i think that many times TJs provides interesting and unusual items at considerably lower prices than they could be had at specialty stores and with way more imagination than national chains.

      Plus, you should take extra solace in the fact that certain endemic, systemic planks of the TJs business plan (terrible parking, random stocking schedules, intermittant disappearance of favorite products) will always turn people off and prevent any sort of market hegemony.

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        I'm not worried about market hegemony. Starbucks also gives warm fuzzy benefits and their barristas have been reduced to button pushers. Non sequitor, maybe. IMO: If we want the knowledge and economic base in our own community to remain strong, we should patronize locally and cooperatively owned businesses.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          i gotta agree with Keg on this one TT!

          did you know that TJ's had their eye on moving one of their stores just a block from the wedge?!? i was really worried that in this economy, the move would get past city council, but it got voted dow. whew.

          bad enough to give the average msp grocery shopper or co-op member nightmares, but the behind-the-scenes impact of seriously impacting or *sob* shutting down the wedge would impact everyone who eats in msp-- because the wedge's affiliated sister company, the organic warehouse and distibutor co-op partners, supplies a heck of a lot of the better restaurants in town, all of the co-ops, lots of other groceries, and it's one of the main ways that most of our local farmers get goods to local markets. losing the wedge would be catastrophic for our fair cities, our state, and our region!

          1. re: soupkitten

            I think it's safe to say TJs does NOT use Co-op Partners, as their produce is pretty sad and so over packaged it's off-putting. Cub or Rainbow has better and fresher stuff. I do make a Trader Joe's run every other week to get a few things: frozen pizza (while it's still chilly - I think I've bought my last one until fall); peanuts, sandwich bread and fizzy blueberry juice. Those are all specific to Trader Joe's and though I can spend $2 more a loaf at other places TJs sandwich bread is a fair imitation of Rudi's' and freezes well. If want real bread then I go to Turtle Bread or whoever has the best of what I seek.

            I'm lucky to live where I do so I can shop for what I need at four different stores all within two miles of my place. The co-op wins hands down for produce but if they don't have any good looking potatoes or garlic or whatever it is I need, I can walk across the street from my place to Whole Foods. Yep, I’d rather trek to my beloved Linden Hills than walk across the street because 1) produce is cheaper and better at the co-op and 2) I know the farm connection is much tighter through the co-ops than through other grocery stores.

            As fiercely protective as I am of Linden Hills, my enthusiasm pales in comparison to the Wedge zealots, which I understand – it is a wonderful co-op. All this is to say I really don’t think our co-ops have anything to fear from Trader Joe’s.

            1. re: MplsM ary

              i'm not exclusively a wedge zealot! :) i heart all the co-ops, i'm a zealot for them all. i think the strong co-op food culture is one of the coolest things about msp. so yes, i'm really biased on this one ;-P chains stay away!

            2. re: soupkitten

              grr. it doesn't look like this is over-- despite lots of places TJ's could move in mpls proper, they have their sights on squeezing into the wedge's territory. they've obviously never seen the wrath of freaky picketing middle-aged agro-hippies. . . :)


              apparently the owner of hum's liquor store has already been approached by the TJ's folks about buying the building. TJ's would then be able to shut down the store and have a legal toe in the door to opening in that location--but the owner of hum's turned them down flat (go independent business!). i think that the wal-mart tactics TJ's is trying to employ will prove pretty unpopular in uptown! they should give it up & go into the old jaguar dealership downtown, or go northside, or stay in the suburbs or something. . .