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Raise your hand if you don't like Trader Joe's

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This place creeps me out. It's like a cult. The kitschy advertising and packaging alone makes me never want to shop there. I've tried to like it, but the few times I went with the purpose of buying something, I wound up leaving and wondering why people liked it so much. Am I the only one? Does anyone else feel like this?

  1. Just like WF, I don't feel that I need to burn money so I can show of my TJ's bags when I heave out the trash. I can get the same stuff, even better quality, at Costco etc. for a lot less.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cstr

      Burn money? Just like WF? WTF? One of the chief appeals of Trader Joe's is that its prices are distinctly lower than most other grocery chains.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          Since you "wound up leaving" I'm surprised that you remember the prices. I was only in the NYC one a couple of times but nothing screamed at me. But I'm willing to be wrong about that. But prices don't creep me out.

    2. Hands raised ... high, very high.

      It has little to do with the prices, selection or even the kitchsy culture. I just don't find most of the TJ branded foods all that tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        "I just don't find most of the TJ branded foods all that tasty."

        From what I've tasted that friends have foisted on me, I agree.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          I feel the same - that somehow I HAVE to like TJ's because the dyed-in-the-organic-locavore-sheep's-wool foodies all seem to think it's the last word in food shopping. Any of the prepared foods I've sampled there were either simply bad or, at best, tasteless. The Spouse likes their bread and I would agree if they didn't sell it in a plastic bag. The bread might have been good once, like maybe before it went soggy from the plastic. Just nothing there to make the trip worthwhile.

          Oh, wait. One exception. The TJ's by us carries a brand of salami from San Francisco that I love and can't find anywhere else here. So once every 3 or 4 months I'll go buy a small package of salami. Otherwise, no reason to go.

      2. The only thing I buy regularly at Trader Joe's is their Pound Plus chocolate. , It is IMHO consistently excellent, and a great bargain. The occasional case of Two Buck Chuck to braise with ($2.99 in the Ann Arbor store) rounds out the trip.

        1. I also dislike Trader Joe's. It's always super-crowded, which I hate. I do go there on occasion to buy nuts and almond meal. They have good nuts, I gotta say. The produce is okay, but I have tried a number of their prepared foods (via family members who LOVE them) and I don't like them either.

          I also find the branding stuff silly. However, if TJ's did not have such a cultish following I would probably dislike them less ;)

          2 Replies
          1. re: visciole

            "However, if TJ's did not have such a cultish following I would probably dislike them less ;)'

            Agreed. But I still would not like them very much; just dislike them less.

            Oh. I am so glad I am not alone in this. I thought for so long I was the only one...now if I can just find a group that can't stand "Seinfeld" it would make my day! :)

            1. re: ttoommyy

              Heh, I can't abide Seinfeld now (although I did watch it some back in its day). But, I do have a routine group of staples I pick up at Trader Joe's, plus try some different things here and there. Ah well, can't have everything. ;-)

          2. Can someone please explain this repeated notion that Trader Joe's has "a cultish following." No doubt it has a very loyal shopping base, but so do many markets (e.g., Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Wegman's, Costco). What is it about TJ's that makes you feel like its supporters are brainwashed, as the word "cult" certainly implies?

            Also, I would like the OP to provide some examples of what he/she claims is TJ's "kitschy advertising." I have lived in LA for 20 years and, other than its own in-store circular, I have yet to see a single TJ's advertisement anywhere at any time. No TV ads. No print ads. No billboards. Nothing online.

            Finally, the OP says, "the few times I went with the purpose of buying something, I wound up leaving and wondering why people liked it so much." Which sounds like that "purpose" went unfulfilled and the OP never bought anything there. So if he/she hasn't tried at least a representative sample of their products, then why come on here with so much shamelessly unfounded, unbridled negativity?

            Look, I'm not saying Trader Joe's is the greatest market on earth, but I do think it's a unique one. If those elements that make it unique are not to your taste, that's fine. But if you think the chain deserves this kind of a major push-back/takedown, I hope you can back it up with criticisms that are a whole lot more substantive and a whole lot less peevish.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Arthur

              IMHO venting on an internet board doesn't really constitute "a major push-back/ takedown."

              It's just for fun.

              1. re: visciole

                visciole, that kind of "fun" has been shown to be exceptionally costly to businesses.

                1. re: Arthur

                  A handful of people on an internet board who think TJ's is kitschy and don't particularly love their products is going to take them down? Great, then it might be less crowded when I want to go and buy my almond meal. Let me know when it happens so I can run right over ;)

                  Listen, I don't hate Trader Joe's. I'm just not wild about them. Is that okay?

                  1. re: visciole

                    These are the TJ branded products that I've tried, and my opinions of them.

                    Sweat Tea: bland no tea taste, just a lingering molasses aftertaste

                    Granola (various flavors): too hard and crunchy, made me feel like I was eating gravel, then they went and raised the prices ...

                    Marinated beefs and ribs for grilling: Beef always turned out mushy and ribs were often too fatty.

                    Peanut butter: tasted too much like butter, and not enough like peanuts.

                    Those are the ones that come immediately to mind. There may be others. Like I said above, I could care less about the prices (low or high), the supposed cult following or kitsch. For me, it just comes down to taste, and that's where TJ's falls flat.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Serves you right for buying "sweat" tea - the molasses was needed to mask the salt!

                    2. re: visciole

                      "A handful of people on an internet board who think TJ's is kitschy and don't particularly love their products is going to take them down?"

                      Yikes! I've been found out! :)

                2. re: Arthur

                  To Arthur, from ttoommyy, the OP:

                  "What is it about TJ's that makes you feel like its supporters are brainwashed, as the word "cult" certainly implies?"

                  "Brainwashed" is your word. I NEVER said or implied that. I also never took a potshot at anyone who shops there. All I said was "This place creeps me out. It's like a cult."

                  "Also, I would like the OP to provide some examples of what he/she claims is TJ's "kitschy advertising..."

                  Their web site is advertising. The packaging and signs in the store is advertising. I NEVER said there were commercials, billboards, etc. And yes, the are indeed online. They have a web site, which I went to to look for something. THAT is what made me start this post.
                  As for the kitchy advertising, how about poducts named: "Oh My Darlin'! This Clementine Sparkles (soda)." "Honey, Pass the Snack Mix." And their use of the word VinTJ for their house-produced wine ( a play on the words vin, Fench for wine, and TJ, Trader Joe's, otherwise, vintage.) Not to mention those silly hand drawn "victorian-era" cartoony things that are found in the stores, on their web site and in flyers. Those are all examples of advertising/marketing and very kitschy. AND...all of this is found on their web site (another form of advertising/marketing.

                  "So if he/she hasn't tried at least a representative sample of their products, then why come on here with so much shamelessly unfounded, unbridled negativity?"

                  If you took the time to read any of my responses, you would have read this, "From what I've tasted that friends have foisted on me, I agree (that the food at TJ is not that tasty)." I have tried many things from TJ at friend's and family's places. I've never thought any of it was special or even very good.

                  "No doubt it has a very loyal shopping base, but so do many markets (e.g., Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Wegman's, Costco)."

                  A loyal shopping base is different than people gushing over and discussing ad nauseum how great a place is. Which is what I find here in the NYC area. This post is just my opinion.

                  "why come on here with so much shamelessly unfounded, unbridled negativity?"
                  As you can see, MY OPINION is not really unfounded. And, I do not think my use of the words "don't like," which are in my post's subject line, constitute "unbridled negativity."

                  I rest my case.

                  1. re: Arthur

                    Arthur - I am 100% with you.

                    I really dont understand the comparisons some posters have made on this thread. TJ's shoppers are liken to cult members? Frankly I find that offensive. I am going to stop there because my last post was deleted and I got a warning from the moderators! Double standard in here sometimes

                    1. re: Arthur

                      My wife and I moved to Miami 2 yrs. ago for family reasons after 40 yrs. in L.A. TJ's is one of the many things we miss big-time. We lived in Glendale the last several years there and we had one there, one in Eaglerock and one in the Los Feliz area. We bought wine and liquor there on a regular base...can't beat those prices. Also the fair trade 5-country coffee beans, bread from La Brea Bakery. etc. LOVE TJ's and miss having one close by!