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MSP: St. Paul Trader Joe's Opening

Just drove past the St. Paul Trader Joe's site at Lexington and Randolph. Grand opening will be June 26th, according to a banner.

I myself can't wait. Hope I'm not disappointed (this is right near home and I've never even been to a Trader Joe's. Parking looked FINE...nothing special, but they will have parking under the store itself.

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  1. For the mods: is there any type of reply to this post which would not get removed?
    The place doesn't open for another day so no one will have personal knowledge of that particular store. how about this:

    i, for one, am excited that i won't have to drive 15+ minutes into the suburbs.

    1. Sad that Randolph is losing a Mississippi Market and gaining a TJ's.


      8 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Personally I dislike that MissM - I've had issues with the freshness (complete lack thereof) of a number of prepared items and stale bin items as well. Maybe the new MissM will have better food turnover.

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          wait, when is that miss market closing? (i mostly use the other one and seward so im totally out of the loop down there)

          also i think the new TJs is only about half a mile further from the selby dale miss market, but its still sad to lose a coop.

            1. re: snoboardbabe77

              I thought that they were just opening another location on 7th?

              1. re: snoboardbabe77

                I thought they were opening another location on 7th also, not closing altogether? Although I gotta agree about the freshness issue. That really raised my ire.

                1. re: jeanmt

                  Right, Randolph is losing MissMarket and gaining a TJ's. West 7th is gaining a Miss Market.

                  I haven't had any freshness issues at MissMarket, but I go there mostly for dairy items. I have noticed the place is looking more and more scruffy and that the selection of packaged grocery items is diminishing...


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    And the Mississippi Market at Selby and Dale continues to be open as before.

                    A couple weeks ago there was a power outage in the Selby/Dale area and that store was closed so I went to the Randolph MM. It was a long long time since I went there -- go to the Selby/Dale one regularly. I was surprised how limited the produce was and the prepared items. And the kind of scruffiness of that store. Probably, they were not making improvements to the store as the new opening was anticipated.

                    Anyway, the Selby/Dale store is much much bigger than the Randolph one with a much bigger selection and a much nicer atmosphere. And the new one on West Seventh will be much bigger still, and a state-of-the-art green building.

                    (Commercial ended.)

                    1. re: karykat

                      the new MM is scheduled to open 10am on thurs july 16th. they mark 30 years in business. i believe the entire staff of the randolph store is moving to west 7th, plus 15 new staff positions.

          1. Trader Joe's... Just got a large post card in the mail enticing me to come in for a free gift when they open. The gift is a reusable grocery bag. Nice promo.

            Mississippi Market... I will sadly miss this place. It is six blocks from my house, and I've enjoyed the convenience. They will have a closing celebration and moving of the peace pole on July 11 in the afternoon. They open in their new location on West 7th near Otto on July 16.

            1. Welll... While oot and aboot yesterday and never having experienced a TJ's, I stopped in and was *quite* disappointed. Very disappointed.

              I've been very taken with TJ's web site - it's really neat and innovative, very fun. Cool web site - I really like it. So based on the neat web site I'd expected a 'funner,' 'cooler,' more different, zippier, extravagant store. Maybe you saw me? I was the one standing slack jawed at the entrance.

              It was so TINY. Teeny-weeny. A wee hole-in-the-wall. I asked if this was the typical square footage for a TJ's and was told it was. And the selections were, well... What selections? Your everyday run-of-the-mill grocery stuff, limited choices there of. I'm a cheese freak so I headed directly to the cheese cooler. Totally wasted my time. Cub's cheese selections are more varied and of greater variety.

              I was so disappointed - I'd expected so much more. I love to grocery shop, maybe that's it. To me TJ's is just an expanded 7-Eleven/Holiday/quick-stop kind'a place to pick up something for dinner on the way home. Mississippi Market and Kowalski's are much better - for my wants - than a TJ's.

              Well. Been there, done it. Doubt I'll be going back anytime soon.

              31 Replies
              1. re: green56

                I feel the same way about TJ and had the very same reaction during my first visit. It seems like a good place to go if you need snacks for a party, or to pick up a few items and a frozen dinner on the way home from work, but there's no way anyone who cooks frequently will get all of their needs met by the store.

                1. re: green56

                  Trader Joes isn't exceptional for its selection, but its prices on "specialty" items. Sprouted wheat bread, for example, is half the price ou'll find elsewhere. By the nature of the business model, it excels in frozen and pre-packaged foods, so it's not going to supplant farmers markets or cheese shops.

                  In fact, it doesn't really supplant anything. It will always be a second or third stop on grocery day, or a destination shop for parties.

                  1. re: kevin47

                    TJ's private label items are cheaper than local sources of similar packaged/processed goods. They have decent globalized commodity pricing on things like almonds, maple syrup, and canned olives. They sell a lot of IQF proteins without that much information about sustainability or growing practices. To their credit they sell some delicious Niman Ranch Pork. They bring a ton of interesting small Euro brand wine and beer into their booze selling operations, but that's not a feature in St. Paul, correct? They also have deals on branded non grocery items like toothpaste, dog food, etc.. They are a national chain with significant private label buying power. They're big players.

                    1. re: keg

                      Theres no liquor store at the new st paul location? can anyone confirm this definitively. oh so lame, if its true.

                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                        It's not true. They sell beer and wine at the St. Paul location.

                        1. re: BellaMN

                          ok. havent seen liquor at the woodbury store (and dont remember it in st louis park either) but i suspect that has to do with this states rather strict alcohol controls.

                          1. re: tex.s.toast

                            The St. Louis Park location has liquor.

                              1. re: BellaMN

                                by 'liquor' do you mean wine and beer?

                                1. re: getgot211

                                  All MN locations have wine and beer. None has liquor.

                                  The CA locations, which sell beer, wine and liquor in the main storefront, are a little more intuitive in terms of ascertaining TJ's niche.

                                  1. re: kevin47

                                    You are correct. I live in Pasadena, CA and have shopped at the original TJs for over 15 years (other locations since I was little) and I have heard grumblings from people who have visited locations outside of So Cal complaining that the offerings are nowhere near what we have here. It's too bad, since I am planning on relocating to MPLS at some point in the near future and was so happy to hear that there were TJs in the area. As long as they have some of my faves, I think I will be okay.

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      All of the TJ's are a little different, but the Woodbury location is as typically stocked grocery-wise (can't comment on the wine shop) as any in most parts of the US. SLP location is smaller. Since the Randolph location was built on top of a postage stamp, I imagine it's pretty dang small with limited selection. Haven't been there yet. (Don't intend to go, except that I'm sure I will just to see if maybe my mind has changed and maybe to kick the store manager in the shins, telling him to pass it on up the corporate chain of command, for ruining the neighhorhood. Thanks, dude, for blocking our access to and from 35E. We like to sit in your traffic on our commutes home from work, because, you know, there's a lot of room to maneuver on Randolph which has only one lane in each direction.)

                                      Personally, I hate the whole TJ's experience, stupidly cramped parking lot that backs up and clogs the neighborhood thru-traffic, crowded aisles with people impatiently hanging over you to get to their what-ever favorite in the freezer/fridge cases, weirdly shrink-wrapped onto styrofoam trays produce (great! buy organic, then shroud everything fresh in plastic), but you do have to try one for yourself at least once. Some of their products do have a real following and you can find many, many lists of chowhound's favorites on the chains board. Why, here's a post that's more than 250 long that's at the top of the chains board right now http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3552...

                                      But, they seem to target dual-income urbanites who want short-cut cooking and convenience foods with a global flair and the aura of food ethics. If you like to cook from scratch, there are a million better places in St. Paul to go that do a better job of supporting the local economy, St. Paul Farmers Market for starters, but also the Selby/Dale Mississippi Market, (and presumably, the West 7th MissMkt when it opens in July), or even Lunds on Ford Parkway. If you want real ethnic, try Dragon Star Oriental Foods on Minnehaha or even Cub on University. Or Cossetta's on West 7th. if you don't mind cramped chains and are chasing the whole food ethics thing, Whole Foods (there's one on Fairview) does a better job at that, although, it's equally as crowded. If you want pre-packaged foods, Golden Fig on Grand carries local stuff (not a huge selection though, and the parking is also bad.) There are plenty of wine shops around St. Paul, Wine Thief, Haskells, etc. You might even pass one (although not the best one) at Randolph and Hamline (as well as a Korte's grocery) on your way to TJ's.

                                      But, by all means, check it out and have an opinion for yourself. There's nothing wrong with (there's everything right, in fact) keeping an open mind. Maybe you can use little conveniences once in awhile. No shame in that. But, for me, the crowdedness of it all eliminates any advantage I'd gain for the convenience.


                  2. re: green56

                    i had a similar experience and posted a reply to yours that basically said TJ's quality and selection is completely inferior to most grocery stores in our area, and that i didn't care for the business practices that TJ's and walmart have in common. now it's gone. i wonder whether or not it's acceptable to say negative things about this national chain on chowhound, or if i did something else wrong. there are an awful lot of TJ's product threads! anyway i don't care for TJ's, it's just a bunch of overprocessed packaged food.

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      I saw your post before it was deleted or moved or whatever. And it was helpful to me.

                      It helped me see what the niche of this place is. And that other places like the coop and Kowalskis fill my needs exceptionally.

                      I will probably check it out at some point just so I know for myself. But I don't feel any need to run there.

                      I guess there is one thing I had heard (some time ago) that they have -- all butter frozen puff pastry. What's the point of puff pastry that's not made with butter? I've seen this stuff around town from time to time but not in my usual haunts when I've looked for it last.

                      Anyway, soupkitten, your post was helpful.

                      1. re: karykat

                        of course you should see it for yourself to see if there is anything useful to you in the store! when i went to the SLP location i picked up some nice lavender french soap which was similar to the stuff you used to be able to buy on the street in paris. . . it was nice but i wouldn't go back for it, the store was too nutty for me. i got some flavored mixed nuts with a weird aftertaste that i ended up unloading at someone else's party iirc. . .

                        i suspect i was too cranky in my last post--- who, me? she says, batting her eyes innocently. . .

                        LOL about the all butter puff pastry & agree.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          I had the chance to chat with Mississippi Market's General Manager yesterday and the new store sounds very exciting. I look forward to being there for the ribbon cutting...

                          TJ's is fun to shop at and browse the aisles, but I've found the products sound so much better than they taste. Not always, but most of the time.

                          1. re: BPfahnl

                            Upon dropping CH off for a b-day party at Mancini's Friday, I'll say this. I saw where the new Mississippi Market is on 7th...WOW. It's big---compared to the old one anyway. Then I picked up Lexington to go home and WOW..TJ was packed! Many neighbors in the area were sporting their resealable bag. I'm going to wait a few weeks before going. As other posters have said-it's not a one stop shop - but it's nice for some of the specialty items. For example, chevre cheese for a small round circle is $4.99 a pack at Byerly's or Kowalskis - they had a 3-pack at TJ for $6. Great for entertaining! I've only sampled a few of their frozen appetizers-I can vouch for the lemongrass chicken skewers. That's about it.

                            1. re: snoboardbabe77

                              how big is the "small round circle" of goat cheese? 3oz? 4oz? packaged all pretty and sent out from cali?

                              try the certified organic chevre from donnay dairy, mn, available from the co-ops (packaged bulk, so you can get as much or little as you want--great for entertaining). i think it's $10/lb or something, but it's local and worlds better than TJ's i'd wager, since it's what all the local restaurants are using. . . oh yeah, and the co-op sends you a check at the end of the year, unlike TJ's.

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                I don't think that is what the root of the argument is for TJ's advocates. If you want local, don't go to TJ's. If you want some specialty foods that you can't get elsewhere and high value premium products, TJ's might have some things you like.

                                1. re: babaoriley7

                                  okay, because my point was that you could get something of *much* better quality, local, unique/artisan, small farm, certified organic, *and* cheaper than TJ's, in the locally-owned, independent, NON-multinational-big-box stores we have already. and get a check at the end of the year from a socially responsible business (local co-op), based on your purchases over one year (and the next year, and the next, for your entire lifetime) oh yeah, and the co-op has a mission statement, it gives out grants and charitable donations annually to sustainable nonprofits and local farms/local sustainablity/community gardening initiatives, gives community classes, supports workers, fair-trade, the planet, etc. as opposed to all profits going to a wealthy aldi-owning family in germany like TJ's does. how in the world is it preferable to go to a TJ's corporate big-box over a community member-owned 30 year old co-op?

                                  your position is that there are "specialty foods you can't get elsewhere" and "high value premium products" at TJ's-- apparently like goat cheese? or olive oil? or what? because. . . i think you can find these items kind of. . . everywhere around town. want cheap olive oil? go to holy land. it's a responsible local family owned business that does a lot for recent immigrants to our local area. the owners actually seem to give a crap. . . want cheap mixed nuts? go to the dollar store. oh something costs thirty five cents more at lund's. . . i guess that's the premium we pay when it's a local company that's been locally owned for seventy years, has unionized employees, buys locally, takes environmental initiative, and focuses its charitable donations *only* on the local communities the stores serve. . . again, instead of sending the check to six people in germany. i might be all alone on this, but i think we need to stand up to multinational chains that are moving in with an eye to putting our long-established independent local businesses. . . out of business. call me crazy, but i don't want a TJ's replacing my local co-op any more than i want a starbucks moving into my local coffee shop's space, and i don't want msp to be an all-chain wasteland filled with nothing but TJ's, starbucks, mcdonalds and kfc-- there are too many towns all around the country like this, & i'd like to keep our local identity intact.

                                  TJ's doesn't offer *anything* except new frozen-slop-on-a-tray options, it's not local, cheap, sustainable, *or* responsible-- it's just bright and shiny. if the good stores we have now go out of biz because of TJ's mass-buying power, i think we'll all live to regret it. i seriously doubt i make any more money than anyone else on the msp area board, but i'll be spending what i do make at local non-chains. sorry we have a difference of opinion on the matter.

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    You are not the only person who feels this way, soupkitten. I haven't been to TJ's, in large part for the reasons you mention. The good news is that the co-ops seem to be expanding in spite of Whole Foods' encroaching on their turf, and I think they'll survive TJ's, too. I know several people who were very excited about TJ's when it first arrived, but are now back to their usual grocery stores.

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      My mother and I worked for Lunds and it was hell on Earth. We did, however, have the honor of devoting a portion of our (borderline minimum wage) checks to the union. Yippee.

                                      Lunds and the co-ops are substantially more expensive than Trader Joes, and you know that.

                                      Frankly, I do not see Minnesota as the grocery store mecca you make it out to be. Rainbow and Cub have somehow gotten away with charging full price for a discount store shopping experience. Lunds, Byerly's and Kowalski's charge an outrageous premium for basic amenities like bagging your groceries.

                                      None of these chains would survive in other states. Trader Joes is what it is, but it has filled a vacuum created by an utterly mediocre grocery industry in this town.

                                      1. re: kevin47

                                        Lunds has high quality, "first cut" produce in clean, well lit stores with plenty of prepared goods that not only cost more, but are worth more, like local coops. You'd be hard pressed to find a Lunds type quality store in many areas of the USA. In NYC we have "mini Lunds" in 1000 square feet of space if we are lucky. Rainbow, Cub and others are selling "second cut and "third cut" produce. Trader Joes is a mediocre hyped up chain.

                                        1. re: kevin47

                                          Kevin, I'm happy to pay double for local, fresh, artisan, etc. And at least Cub (I don't do Rainbow) is increasing their local items.

                                          I see no vacuum filled by TJ's. It's all hype. And there's something scary - to me - reselling/packaging under a brand - Trader Joe's - name. I feel certain TJ's has no idea what free trade's all about.

                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                          Well said soupkitten.

                                          I liken it to the same people that line up outside of Sonic, Smashburger, Krispy Kreme, etc. Just different products.

                                          "Oh my god, have you tried Sonic's tater tots?!? Oh, they're the BEST!"
                                          "Oh my god, have you tried Trader Joe's lemongrass tater tots? Oh they're the BEST!"

                                          Shrug. Yawn.

                                          1. re: soupkitten


                                            I do most of my shopping at the coops and farmers markets. Often I drive over to Wisconsin to shop in the stores right on the farm. I have strong feelings the same as you about the corporate conglomerates.

                                            I just like going to TJs just because there are some unique things and I just like to see what's there. I've given up on their produce and most of their cheeses. There are some nuts I think are better than anywhere else. I also love shopping at Costco, just to see what is new and unique. I buy some special items there.

                                            One disappointing thing about the coops is that most of the packaged stuff is now coming from large multifood corporations. So even now in the coops, I usually shop around the perimeters and never go into the aisles.

                                            That's my take on it.

                                            1. re: shoo bee doo

                                              Gotta agree with shoo bee doo. I also shop the coops, but truthfully if you're buying prepackaged stuff there.....not. local. Never been to a Trader Joe's. Sue me for wanting to check it out. I abhor crowds so I'll likely never be back.

                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                              I must admit I skimmed this post, but I think I got the gist o'it and I have to agree.

                                              At a time when we need to go more local - TJ's, to me, offers us a disservice.

                                              I told my friend about my unhappy xperience at TJ's and she xplained to me she only shops for specific items there. Some sounded neat, like the frozen cubes of garlic, and I may try those. But I'm really stubborn and bull-headed and there's no way anyone's going to convince me TJ's is anything but a bust and about as useful as tits on a boar.

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                I'm on your side of the street. No interest in the TJ hype.

                                            3. re: soupkitten

                                              I love the cheeses at the Mississippi Market coop. They got a special deal on a 7 year old cheddar from Widmars (because a big buyer backed out -- due to the economy). Sill a bit pricey but way less than it would be. Prairie Breeze cheese from Iowa, a very special Emmenthaler (sp) and other cheese from small dairies in Wisconsin. And lots of cheese from around the US and world. Truly exceptional. And if the cheese guy is around, you can ask him anything about the cheese that's there -- he knows.

                                              1. re: karykat

                                                ooh i love that new prairie breeze cheese. same flavor profile as beecher's, but local and way cheaper.

                                                okay good discussion on TJ's. for the record, i'm not trying to tell anybody not to shop there, but i do think it's important to highlight the good stuff from the indies we already have, and note that TJ's is really just moving into the existing market here to grab a share of it, most likely at the expense of the local businesses. i also think that in most instances the cheap food TJ's offers is either overpackaged so that you realize-- wow not so cheap-- or it really is just cheap food and you get what you pay for. the way Tj's operates, without coupons etc. means you can get cheaper food elsewhere imo, if price is the only object. the pro-TJ's folks make a good case for selective shopping there for specific items--okay then. :)

                                2. Trader Joes started out west long ago and I've been shopping there for years. I drive 115 miles right now once a month to go to the one in Indianapolis because they won't build one here. If you check Consumer Reports.org, they are #2 of about 65 for having low, reasonable prices for their products. If you live out west, you can actually get their own dairy products and bread, which are like none other. Go, fall in love with the place and don't forget to try their lotions and soaps while you're at it. The lavender is great.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: PhantomBlonde

                                    sorry to harp on the low quality that TJ's offers, but hey msp has some pretty great grocery stores and co-ops, it's what i'm used to, and TJ's does not measure up. i think we have about a zillion better sources of dairy products available to us locally than the TJ's house brand--which i believe is actually horizon factory farmed, so that's absolutely not an incentive for me to go there. . .


                                    1. re: PhantomBlonde

                                      I'm with you Phantom Blonde. They are not a one stop shop by anyone's standards, but they do have some really great products. Their california olive oil is fabulous, and a steal at $6.

                                      When they bring in a new product, they make sure the producer has sold them something that is of very high quality at a good price. Example, their chocolate chips are WAAAAY better than nestle, maybe ghiradelli (they put their labal on most everything they sell even if they don't own the production facilities) and they cost the same or less. You'll find that is true with many of their products. At one point they had a good peanut sauce which I found in a different label exact same bottle and taste elsewhere... TJ's price was about a buck less. Goat cheese example is right on too.

                                      Also they don't include any unnatural preservatives in their products which, while is not organic is something to be aware of.

                                      I'm glad for a store opening here in St. Paul and I"m sure I'll stop to pick some things up once a month or so...

                                      1. re: PhantomBlonde

                                        Thank you, Phantom. I am reading the posts, out here in Los Angeles, and just shaking my head. Apparently, as I have heard, the other locations are not as good or offer as many fresh, wonderful items that we get in our TJs out here in LA. My mom started shopping there when I was little and I have continued the tradition now that I am not so little! Maybe some of these people should come out and check out the ones we have here - then they will know what the hype is about - although, I don't think we hype it that much, we just all shop there. It is a no-brainer.
                                        And yes, the Garlic, Parsley, Cilantro that come frozen in 1 tsp cubes are the best thing ever created. Also, I love their soaps - and was broken hearted when they discontinued the Rose petal one. I remember when I was little there was a round in the middle of the cheese section with a cheese person working there - you could get a taste of any of the cheeses you wanted - and as many as you want. That was novel - too bad they stopped with that, although now they have the tasting stations where you can taste whatever products they are preparing that day.

                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                          To make sure I am understanding what they sell, what is in the garlic, parsley and cilantro cubes? Are these three separate items (I'm assuming). And what are they frozen in? Water? Or oil?

                                          Might help me decide what I can do with our herbs at the end of the growing season. And whether I would be interested in these at TJs.

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            The cubes are separately packaged as cilantro, garlic, etc. they come in sort of a mini ice-cube tray and the ingredients are processed with a flavorless oil (canola, I believe) in about 1 tbs portions.