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Aug 24, 2009 05:56 PM

Has Trader Joes gone downhill over the years?

I have shopped at Trader Joes for over 20 years. Many products that I used to buy have dissapeared.

It seems as if Trader Joes is trying to change its focus. In the 1980s Trader Joes was known to have wine, cheese,snack foods, frozen foods and dried fruits/nuts.

Over the past 10 years Trader Joes has become more of a mass appeal store trying to lure customers away from stores like vons and Ralphs.

They no longer carry large cut up blocks of Ghiradeli chocolate that they used to have at the checkout.

Today thier selection of one day breads(La Brea bakery bread) has been cut in half. I was looking for Youngs double chocolate stout beer and they don't carry it anymore.

Being more positive Trader Joes gets all of its fresh squeezed juices from Juice Evolution or Perocines. The prices on Juice Evolution fresh squeezed juices are half the price of Whole Foods or Gelsons.

Many Trader Joes parking lots are very very small.

There frozen food items are a hit or miss.

Whole Foods has a better selection on most items but they are more expensive.

The produce at Trader Joes is medicre at best.

At many Trader Joes locations if you don't arrive by 12noon the store is wiped out like a tornado.

Why are Trader Joes stores so popular and busy?

I shop at the Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and Woodland Hills locations.

Trader Joes is also expanding to locations that don't make any sense such as Santa Maria,CA and Palmdale,CA.

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  1. I still think TJ's is a distinctive store. I'd rather shop there than a regular grocery store or Whole Foods or Henry's, etc. Why do you say that it doesn't make sense for them to expand to Santa Maria or Palmdale?

    1. I, too, have shopped TJ's for over 20 years. I agree that many of the changes have been for the worse.

      I lament the old TJ branded wines that were surplus or distressed production from major wineries, each with its individually designed label.

      I'm unhappy about the sausage situation. Nothin' much left but the TJ's chicken sausage in maybe a dozen flavors. (Mango chipotle chicken sausage?) Nary an honest bratwurst to be seen. Tofu dogs don't count, of course.

      The frozen, ready to heat foods? I keep trying the samples, seldom like 'em. Range from meh to feh on my taster scale.

      However, a business is a business, and they certainly attract customers. Even if it's herd instinct that brings 'em in. Used to be that a TJ's shopper was out of step with the mainstream. Now that TJ's is mainstream we out of steppers are out of place, I guess.

      BTW, how do Santa Maria and Palmdale rate as not making sense for locations? People in those cities need somewhere to buy their mango/chipotle chicken sausage, not to mention their Two Buck Chuck.

      1. Why NOT Santa Maria????

        I've shopped Trader Joes for over 30 years. No, I don't think they've gone downhill at all.
        I do wish they still carried reception sticks.

        1. I once again have to pull the (paraphrased) Norma Desmond line out of mothballs (i.e. "I am big; it's the pictures that got small.") The rest of the world caught up to and, in some cases, passed TJ's. A walk down the aisle of any Safeway/Albertson's/etc. outlet reveals house-branded and name brand goods of a variety unheard of even a decade ago. It's harder for TJ's to stand out, or compete, in that kind of a market. In Chicago, for example, we have Japanese, Korean and other International megamarts which offer great exotic produce and products at pretty competitive prices. Trader Joe's model of locking in prices on items that were otherwise too expensive or had limited distribution is more difficult just because there's so much competition from even bigger and more mainstream outlets. So it's not so much that TJ's has fallen off, but our expectations have certainly grown.

          1. "The frozen, ready to heat foods? I keep trying the samples, seldom like 'em. Range from meh to feh on my taster scale."

            I've given up on TJs. Too often their dairy, cheese, and produce go off too quickly.

            Now that I have a Fresh & Easy at an equal distance, I never go to TJs any more.