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Trader Joe's Going Downhill?

  • j

The evidence:

- Macademia nuts blatantly rancid (not even a close call)
- Less and less times that it's possible to get decent produce (typical thing is avocado looks decent outside and then completely rotten inside.)
- Olive oil tastes suspiciously not olive oily, cap doesn't fit, drip-free spout drips.
- Sea salt dispenser poorly designed, so impossible to get more than a few grains out at a time.
- Greek yogurt: yuch.

Any others have similar experiences?

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  1. No, actually (especially with reference to produce incl. avocados, olive oil, yogurt). I shop at the Fresh Pond Trader Joe's - which one are you talking about?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jesseve

      The Foxboro/Patriot Place store just opened, and is a huge success. They handled it really well, from having plenty of employees on hand to help and answer questions, to designing the store aisles wide enough to accomodate heavy shopping cart traffic. Everything is fresh because it just got put on the shelves. We like.

    2. In general, I'd say TJ products are as good -- and sometimes flawed -- as ever. I agree with you on the sea salt; it doesn't pour very well and I wouldn't buy it again. Also, the produce is iffy, ranging from very good and very well priced to "why is that even on the shelf?" For example, the strawberries, whether organic or conventional, almost always show signs of deterioration. I've watched employees putting out new shipments of strawberries and then examined a dozen baskets or so and every one of them contains bruised berries. Do they actually sell all these ugly berries? Dump them? Give them away? Maybe if they slashed the price 50% I'd buy them and deal with trimming away the bad spots, but you never see marked down fruit and veggies at TJs.

      But one of the things I like about TJs is that they cheerfully refund your money if you don't like anything you buy. I wouldn't hesitate to tell them about rancid nuts, rotten avocados, etc. I've never encountered a TJ employee who wasn't eager to please and make things right.

      10 Replies
      1. re: katzzz

        I work at Trader Joe's. Unless a product is very decidedly spoiled (milk carton leaking everywhere, wormy apple), if it isn't "sellable", we donate it. At least 90% of what gets pulled is donated. The food bank, soup kitchens, etc. don't mind backdated products or "trimming away the bad spots".

        1. re: Rilke

          this is great to know; thank you for reporting it and thanks to TJs for making it happen.

          1. re: Rilke

            Most products have been very good, and a small percentage have been really lousy (moldy, poor quality, etc.) but I hate to return things, so have only done so a handful of times. Last week I returned a bottle of chocolate milk that was so foul that my daughter smelled it as soon as she opened it. For the very first time, the customer service guy behind the counter argued with me - he said that no one has complained about that product. I told him that was not the point - the point was that the one we got smelled rancid. He did give me a refund, but I was surprised at how much he argued with me! Believe me, I would not spend $2.00 in gas to make a false claim on a $1.99 return! There are three TJs equidistant from me, and I'll never go to that particular one again.

            1. re: Rilke

              As long as it's off the TJ's shelf and not customer returns. Because when I've seen TJ's donations come through one of the local food pantries I volunteer with, some of those bags are opened not just "unsaleable" and we toss those. It's not as though TJ's doesn't still get the write off.

              A true donation would be 100% fresh and no different than what customers are buying.

              When I make a food donation, I'm not dropping off close to expired food.

              Just not ready to pat TJ's on the back without a caveat.

            2. re: katzzz

              How fresh are their strawberries? I'd much rather have bruised berries than berries with lots of white inside.

              1. re: katzzz

                The reason TJs doesn't ever mark down anything is because they donate anything that they find to be unfit for sale (but still perfectly edible) to organizations who distribute the food to people in need in the community.

                1. re: ohmyyum

                  Interesting. My corner market sometimes has Trader Joes produce and packaged items for sale. I wonder if they are re-selling the donations or if they have some other deal going on.

                  1. re: chinchi

                    that's like buying IKEA stuff from a small furniture store. sounds shady.

                  2. re: ohmyyum

                    A very nice tax break for TJ's. Someone should look into how much that works out to be. It's a fortune.

                    1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                      Hmm I never thought about it that way. But I'd still prefer them donate it to someone in need than play that markdown game. I don't understand why you would pay half price for something if you didn't find the quality fit for purchase to begin with!

                2. TJ's has always been very hit or miss. Some of their products put 'brand name' versions to shame, while others are really mediocre. That's always been part of the fun -- to hear through the grapevine that their new frozen bangalorian salmon mousse is amazing and only $3.

                  As katazz says, they're huge sticklers for product quality and customer satisfaction, though. If you bought something you don't like (rancid, rotten, or just bleh), tell them, you'll get a refund.

                  I was really excited when they introduced kimchi in a stay-fresh pouch, recently. It was fantastic. But it was only on the shelf for a week because they had too many complaints about the package not keeping it fresh enough -- so they pulled it immediately. That's not a company going downhill, it's one who's on top of things.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    The kimchi complaints are really confusing. It's already fermented cabbage so how much more un-fresh could it possibly be?!

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      They were in fairly thin little plastic pouches; the employee I talked to said "the packaging wasn't up to par, some people said it was spoiling too fast and others said the bags leaked." Not sure how you can tell that kimchi is 'spoiled' (too ripe?) but there you are :)

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          Late to this conversation, but I'll add my 2ยข....The kimchee complaints are not confusing, they're downright laughable. Un-pasteurized Kimchee doesn't go bad (and pasteurized kimchee is not worth buying).

                          When I buy it I leave it on the kitchen counter unrefrigerated for a day or 2 days to hasten the ripening. Hell, I even buy it as close to the "expiration" date as I can.
                          'Fresh' kimchee to me (and other afficianados) is a 'fail'. LOL. Some will disagree. :-)

                          1. re: The Professor

                            Professor,
                            I've never tried kimchee because quite frankly it scares me. LOL
                            How does one know if it has passed 'ripe' and entered 'spoiled'?

                            1. re: PasadenaRose

                              I don't think I've ever encountered 'spoiled' kimchee. A jar (even a relatively large one) gets used up rather quickly here. I once had a small jar that got shoved to the back of the fridge and remained there for probably more than 6 months. It was _quite_ripe, but certainly not spoiled. It was delicious in a bowl of ramen soup.

                              1. re: The Professor

                                I liked the kimchee so much that I bought 6 bags of it. Couldn't finish it before the expiration date and the bags gradually puffed up in the fridge. I opened one and tried it and, while it didn't taste bad, it no longer tasted good so I tossed the bags.

                        2. re: Boston_Otter

                          You reminded me about the TJ New York cheesecake I bought the other day. Decidedly bleh. Maybe I'll ask for a refund.

                        3. We stayed in a town that didn't have a TJ's for about 10 days. we shopped and cooked quick meals in the hotel at least for one meal a day. There's a bunch of WF's, Sunflower Market, Sprouts, Alfalfa, etc. but the whole time the only thing I kept think of is "this town needs a Trader Joe's BADLY!"

                          I guess my point is that TJ's isn't perfect but it sure offers something no one else can. the prices on some items are unbeatable like sunflower seed butter. Not even Target can beat the price. i do have to be careful with purchasing some items. meat is tricky and i have almost stopped buying raw chicken there after a polka dotted chicken breast incident. I'm fine with the sea salt dispenser. what's everyone's issues with that one? it's just fine.

                          But as far as it going downhill i'm not sure when and what point in time you're comparing the current store to? the 90's? early 2000's? as far as quality issues I've always had a few bad issues there per year but not enough to warrant a going down the hill warning. i've had just as many bad/spoiled food issues at Whole Foods as TJ's.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: trolley

                            Just to answer your specific question, I'm comparing it to about 10 years ago. Used to be able to buy fresh produce and overall have a good experience--now I find it's the opposite. Same with nuts. And the little things like packaging design seems worse.

                            To be fair, on the plus side, I have noticed an improvement in freezer burn issues with things like frozen shrimp (but that could be due to me now shopping at the larger TJ's in the Boston area versus the smaller stores, which always just seem more poorly managed)

                            1. re: jon44

                              i've had the opposite experience with produce--10 years ago, it was definitely their achille's heel. now, i find the bagged produce fresher and more reliable than back then, and i appreciate that they sell individual fruits and veggies. i'd much rather buy three apples i've selected myself, rather than a plastic 4-pack. and since they have no scales at check-out, the big butternut squash costs the same as the smaller one.
                              big tj's fan here. while i (like all long-time tj shoppers) mourn the discontinuation of some of my favorite products, and sometimes wonder what they are thinking with stuff they d/c and new stuff they bring in, i'd rather shop tj than many of the other options near me.
                              they are expanding in a down economy, so hooray for them! there are bound to be bumps in that road, but i think, on balance, they do a great job. so, no, i don't see a downhill slide, personally.

                          2. The only thing that I have noticed going downhill are the chicken/green chile burritos - they have gone from yum to yuck (meat is kind of gross). I think the sea salt mill is just fine, and the price certainly can't be beat!

                            1. it is really inconsistent and always has been. the things we like-90% of the time are:
                              multigrain english muffins
                              red wax individual gouda
                              frozen brown rice
                              spanish olive oil
                              bag of avocados
                              also good wine...other than that it's pretty sketchy. good chocolate though.

                              1. Love them or hate them, Trader Joe's has a few warts we all know that. There is not another chain grocery store that has so many unique and interesting products. I've had my share of moldy bread, bruised fruit and flawed packaging, but the reason I keep going back is the variety, ease of shopping and cheap prices. Anything you don't like, take it back. No questions asked.

                                www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                  And a long list of good,pre portioned things,not food bar that are a god send for many people I know.

                                2. Not that I've noticed.

                                  TJ's produce has always been dodgy, their least reliable product line. I've had no problems with the bagged-and-chilled vegetables and fruits, just the ones in open bins and shelves.

                                  Which olive oil don't you like? TJ has several. The Imported Olive Oil Packed in Italy, refined with some EVOO added, has very little olive flavor - typical of refined olive oil - so I've made it my all-purpose cooking oil, in place of canola. The cap fits fine and there's no pouring spout, just a plastic bottleneck-narrower, so this probably isn't the kind you're complaining about.

                                  TJ also has more than one kind of sea salt. The large blue tube ("Product of Spain") has a rotating dispenser top for shaking or pouring - works fine for me.

                                  I haven't tried their macadamia nuts, but their cashews and almonds are excellent, and cost much less than Planter's.

                                  1. I'm willing to overlook the few small things that Trader Joe's doesn't do well for the many big things that they do very well. Can you say there is a chain like TJ that can match its record?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      Over time you learn the good and the bad - which is the same for every market.

                                      I have never had good luck with their produce - especially fruit. And I have tried many, many times. I don't buy it anymore. However I have never taken anything back - mostly due to the fact that a TJ's trip for me is every 2 weeks (long story).

                                      Won't buy produce from Vons or Ralphs either.

                                      I no longer buy their meat or chicken - the meat due to blisters in the meat - you don't wanna know. And the chicken due to weird crunches in white breast meat. Same for the pre-packaged foods. Had too many nasty surprises.

                                      One of my friends buys everything from TJ's. Tells me I'm crazy when I tell her the above - and we shop at the same market.

                                      However I will always buy Almond Milk, Whipped Cream (for my OH), nut mix, langoustine tails, scallops and so on. So there are staples that I go to TJ's for. And they have the BEST goodies.

                                      1. re: toopie28

                                        Just FYI, you don't need to take the product itself back. With no product, a receipt will do for a return.

                                        Or even just a torn off label.

                                        1. re: Rilke

                                          Really?!?!? Well, that's good to know. Would have saved me a bloody fortune.
                                          Thanks!

                                          1. re: toopie28

                                            Typically, if you have enough of a problem with a product that you want your money back, you are not the only one.

                                            The only returns I have seen questioned are
                                            1. vitamins without a receipt; this is the only item in store you need a receipt to return
                                            2. three or four bottles of olive oil that were all mostly gone (come on)

                                    2. I waded through one of the posts on "What's Good at Trader Joe's" and he made a good point that the food from there always seems to go bad before the "Sell By" data and hypothesized its because they "buy food that's close to it's expiration date [then freeze it or whatever] and sell it for a discounted cost"

                                      This would explain a lot, if true...

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: jon44

                                        I strongly doubt that is true.

                                        1. re: jon44

                                          I strongly doubt that! Part of it is that they don't use a lot of preservatives to keep things "fresh" and I think the other problem with Trader Joe's is that they centrally distribute from a couple of warehouses, whereas a regular grocery store has a more direct to consumer path taking fewer steps and less time. A classic case is their bananas. They all get Dole bananas but for some reason Trader Joe's always show up more ripe and more beat up.

                                          Plus who really cares what those guys at What's Good At Trader Joe's say anyway! ;-)

                                          Steve
                                          www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                          1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                            I don't know, the same thought occurred to me with things like their avocado's. They look just like the one's from Whole Foods (but half the price), but then never pass through a stage where they're edible--they go directly from bright green and hard to brown and mushy (with brown insides). I always assumed it had to do with something they do to them (gas?) to lower costs in distribution or storage.

                                            Interesting site, Steve. I appreciate that you have a visual rating to sum up your posts. Can I suggest a quick verbal summary on top as well? (You get points for talking just about the food, as opposed to some other unnamed sites where you have to wade through: "Babs and I were going to visit her parents in Toledo and thought we'd go to TJ's for some appetizers, but you know how Bab's parents are. Why just last week her mother.....)

                                            1. re: jon44

                                              Jon, thanks for the compliment on my site! The gas they use on the is called Ethylene and it's a naturally occurring gas given off by ripening fruit. That's how they turn tomatoes red. Not sure if they use it on Avacados and bananas but they could f they wanted.

                                              I'll look into the summary thing. I just remodeled my website and still tweaking things!

                                              Steve
                                              www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                              1. re: jon44

                                                I just talked to an avocado grower at my local farmers' market that enlightened me to the fact that if avocados are picked before the oil that develops naturally inside, they will go from hard to not edible.

                                            2. re: jon44

                                              gas prices. can't control the trucks?

                                            3. Most of the stuff labeled as a "Trader Joe's" brand is no better than safeway select. They do sell Fage for a really good price, however, and haters are going to hate but i like their frozen smoked corn or whatever it's called.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Feta_Compli

                                                Private labeled foods can be the same as any other item out there...just a private label ie: Trader Joe's. The bread comes from LaBriola bakery can have a TJ's label on it. The truck arrives early so customers don't see it delivered. And crew members are supposed to be hush-hush about it.

                                                The only good thing about TJ labels is that you won't get artificial stuff in it, and that's where a difference sometimes is.

                                              2. I don't know about downhill, but I've decided never to buy avocados at Trader Joe's. They are, as you say, always good-looking, but they don't ripen properly and they're stringy and kind of black inside. Ick. I also don't like the TJ's brand of Greek yogurt. It just tastes like regular yogurt, not thick/Greek.

                                                1. the greek yogurt is really bad

                                                  1. Ever since they started expanding outside of California :)

                                                    There are certain things TJ's is good for, mostly things with long shelf lives or high turn-over. I don't usually care for their produce (although I got a good stalk of brussels sprouts there once, but then the store was about 30 miles from where they were grown. I think their model is to buy stuff in bulk and then rebrand: one year they had killer canned tomatoes that you could eat out of the can. But because they're so large, they don't seem to have the same things everywhere, or at least not of the same quality.

                                                    Their sushi, though, has always been vile.

                                                    1. RE TJ's: You can say this and you can say that about their products, but one thing everybody will surely agree on is that they have the nicest, most pleasant, most polite, most helpful staff of any grocery store on earth. I have never asked about a product that somebody didn't drop what he was doing and personally conduct me to it and the checkout people are always so NICE. I wish whoever is training TJ store staffs would run seminars for some of the other snots who work in retail.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                        plus one on that comment - totally agree. The Bellingham WA TJ's has the nicest, tolerant people - i have been going there since it opened (being Cdn, of course i couldn't wait for BLI to open) --- the manager with reddish hair has been there a few years i think. They always offer a "carry out" to assist with my massive purchase (at least one basket each time) - etc. Can you imagine how tolerant they have to be to put up w/ all us Cdn cross border shoppers! They are so helpful. And much same applies to most other TJ's i've been to - in So Calif and in Oregon. I think it depends on the mood of the customer crowd too. (anyone in retail can relate to that comment, i'm sure)

                                                        and yes, i think TJ's has always been hit-miss --- i think the "downhill" perception may be because just about anyone can get to a TJ's now - Spokane WA, Bellingham WA --- etc --- it used to have a unique cachet about it - not so much these days.

                                                        1. re: Georgia Strait

                                                          When they opened in New York people there complained the employees were too friendly!

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/465716

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            hmm, never noticed a play-by-play (and they'd have plenty to comment about on any Cdn shopper order ie a whole lot of butter and then cheap wine --- that's a typical Cdn order out west here ; )

                                                            well the wine not so much (cuz of the border crossing limits), but defintely lots of dairy

                                                        2. re: Querencia

                                                          Gawd, that is so true!

                                                          Most pleasant people we've encountered in food stores.

                                                        3. For years we have found that dairy products from Trader Joes, especially milk and yogurt, go bad before the pull date. Likewise other packaged goods that get mold despite being refrigerated. A jar of Organic Reduced Sugar Raspberry Preserves with a "best by 09/04/14" stamp has mold growing in the jar a week after opening it!

                                                          They will take them back but who remembers to put the offending food in your car when taking off for work with the possibility of stopping at TJ's on the way home.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: garymey

                                                            But a "Best by <date>" label refers to an unopened container. All bets are off once you open it.

                                                            1. re: garymey

                                                              "They will take them back but who remembers to put the offending food in your car when taking off for work with the possibility of stopping at TJ's on the way home."

                                                              Not to mention, when you do bring it back and take it up to the counter, they say to let the checker know you had a return when you're done with your shopping, and they'll deduct it from your purchases. I wonder how many people forget to do that? I know I have.

                                                              1. re: Steve Green

                                                                Just keep it with you and give it to the cashier when you are ready to check out. No need to bring it to the counter at all.

                                                            2. I've been shopping at Trader Joe's for around 40 years and go to the one in my neighborhood frequently ... like today ... so I would be VERY surprised if they were really "going downhill".

                                                              Their produce section here in Los Angeles is usually pretty good. But then, produce in Southern California is usually pretty good.

                                                              As always there are TJ products that are better than others. If I try it and don't like it, I never buy it again... but there are lots of items that are so worth it. Try the samples first if you can. And, yes, they happily refund.

                                                              Many of the TJ branded products are made by manufacturers that you find in the supers, but for better prices.

                                                              I hate it when they discontinue a favorite of mine.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                I've been to some of the TJ's outside of our area and I was pretty let down. The one in Scarsdale, NY was such a let down. I can't say it was one thing that was disappointing but overall it didn't have the same vibe as the one's we have here in Socal or all of CA for that matter. The food seemed sparse and slightly old. However, after spending a long few weeks in on a road trip with no Trader Joe's (thru Utah and Colorado) I finally went to one in Santa Fe. They were sampling wine and champagne!

                                                                1. re: trolley

                                                                  Well, there you have it. In my long experience with TJs, the biggest change was when they decided to go national. Here's some background:

                                                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trader_J...

                                                                  Usually, a company will slide when there is a change of ownership or direction. See JC Penney for a recent high profile example as JCP is struggling to survive its recent ordeal.

                                                                  I had assumed, possibly incorrectly, that the TJs elsewhere were as good as ours. However, I do see a large degree of TJ appreciation from out of state.

                                                                  1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                    So much has to be locally supplied; meats, dairy, produce, bakery, floral. Those items vary greatly depending on the suppliers.
                                                                    The standard "Trader Joe/Jose/Giotto/ Josef/ Darwin" store branded items are a good deal, but depending on the competition as well as traffic, weather conditions and location of the closest store, TJs is not a 'destination' for regular grocery shopping for every US neighborhood.

                                                                    1. re: Cathy

                                                                      "So much has to be locally supplied; meats, dairy, produce, bakery, floral. Those items vary greatly depending on the suppliers"

                                                                      I think that rings true for most super market stores.

                                                              2. I love Trader Joe's products... but I have found that an unusually high percentage of their items (dairy, fresh juices, produce, cheese, pizza dough, etc) go bad before the sell by or expiration date. This is compared to standard chain grocery stores, where I almost never have a product go bad prematurely.

                                                                Yes, they will take it back and refund.... however, like many people I know, I drive about 1 hr each way to get to Trader Joe's (it would be longer in normal weekday traffic; I have to go on a weekend), I cant just swing by to return things all the time. Not to mention the refunded money would probably barely cover the gas to drive there.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Mellicita

                                                                  It's the lack of preservatives that can possibly have that effect. Plan accordingly and if you bring in the receipt, you don't have to bring on the "lab experiment".
                                                                  As far as "downhill" is concerned, the company has shifted focus within the past few years since the older German owner passed away. Most of the quality and customer service is the same, but there's an added emphasis on the bottom line. As an almost 8 yr. veteran I miss the old school importance of TJ's Virtues like Integrity and the work ethic that went with it.

                                                                  1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                    Lack of preservatives doesn't explain the difference in spoilage for produce, milk, and cheese from TJ's versus other grocery stores. I've noticed it as well - stone fruit go from hard to rotten, grape tomatoes ferment from the inside, milk sours, and cheese molds. For some things, like cheese and grape tomatoes, I typically use them quickly enough that it isn't a problem. There are a few things I just won't purchase at TJ's though - onions, garlic, stone fruit.

                                                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                                                      I regularly buy the items you've mentioned from TJs in MA and NH, and have been a loyal customer for well over a decade. I have never had any problems with those items. I once had a package of seeded crackers and a jar of mayo that were rancid. That's it. However, I am good at selecting produce and even in cold weather, I put perishables into a cooler or insulated bag for the drive home. Those factors may make a small difference.

                                                                    2. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                                      lack of preservatives also doesn't excuse their abnormally high level of E.coli poisonings. About half of my favorite products have been posted at the front register with food poisoning warnings- almond butter and frozen indian meals among them. think I want to serve their products to my child?

                                                                      1. re: fara

                                                                        it's a discount food store, what did you expect?
                                                                        I can give you a list of the top ten products containing ratshit.
                                                                        But I'm sure you can guess them yourself.

                                                                    3. re: Mellicita

                                                                      I don't usually have so much trouble with the refrigerated items (once or twice with milk) but the flowers and produce are a real problem at my TJ's. I think they just don't handle them carefully both in shipping and in the store.

                                                                      The cut flowers are in buckets that are supposed to have water in them but they are almost always completely dry. It aggravates me because of the waste and because I won't buy them because they don't last at all.

                                                                      The produce is very hit or miss. When it's good, it's very good, and I have learned to take it back when it's not. Whenever I take something back, I ask if they are getting a lot of returns on that item and the answer is almost always "yes".

                                                                      It seems like they handle some items very roughly so they are often invisibly bruised and then the bruises show up the next day. The bananas and pears particularly have this problem.

                                                                      I have bought bags of oranges that looked fine but two days later were squishy with white mold.

                                                                      TJ's celery has the tops cut off and they are always brown as well as the root end. The rest of it browns quickly as well.

                                                                      Occasionally some fruit that looks good (such as figs or peaches) has a horrible texture and is flavorless.

                                                                      Other items (and sometimes the same items) such as heirloom navels, a melon, honeybells in season, the brown tomatoes, or figs will be better than anything in the other stores.

                                                                    4. I hadn't been to Trader Joe's in about a year because I moved and there isn't one at my current location. But I took a road trip a few weeks ago and stopped in one, and was disappointed to see that a lot of the items I used to get are no longer available. It looks like they've scaled down a lot of their selection overall.

                                                                      Their produce has always been awful imo, and I've never had any good experiences with their fresh meats either. Several times when I got home and opened the package it reeked of a sulfur smell.

                                                                      1. Their soy sauce, which I used to love, now is awful. They changed the formula and it now contains VINEGAR! Disgusting.

                                                                        I have been going to TJ's less and less over time as I have found just as good stuff at Whole Foods, which is closer to home for me. Even though WF has a reputation for being pricey, their 365 house brand is on par (or better) with TJ's for a lot of canned goods and pantry type items. I can no longer think of any one item that is worth a special trip to TJ's, where that used to not be the case. Also, I don't buy much frozen/prepared meals, so I am admittedly not the typical TJ's shopper.

                                                                        1. DOWNHILL is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

                                                                          Trader Joes is absolutely disgusting at this point.
                                                                          I live in LA, where produce and such are usually good.

                                                                          Here's my 2 cents:

                                                                          - The Milk tastes like Paint, and goes bad early
                                                                          - Even Avocados (in Cali!) are brown and hard inside
                                                                          - The grapes and tomatoes are sour and tough
                                                                          - All Dairy goes bad VERY early
                                                                          - Fruit will spoil nearly immediately

                                                                          I'm my opinion - places like Whole Foods probably take their pick of produce, and what's left over (or didn't sell) gets repackaged and relabeled (with a later spoil date) and then gets sold to poor people like me that can't afford good health food at Whole Foods.

                                                                          They market this and assume that everyone is Gullible enough to buy their food.

                                                                          As I sit in my kitchen disappointed with my food choices - I will say that they sold me their last rotten avocado!!

                                                                          1. I first started shopping at Trader Joe's in Northern California almost 20 years ago, and the produce has always been very hit-or-miss, in my experience. A lot of it is too ripe or very close to being too ripe and therefore doesn't last long. I don't think it's gone downhill in that regard, though.

                                                                            They have some great olive oil. I agree about the Greek yogurt, but I'm pretty picky about yogurt.

                                                                            What did the sea salt dispenser used to be like?

                                                                            1. All I buy at TJ's is the Tofu and hummus, still cheaper than the grocery store

                                                                              1. For those that think it's gone downhill do you return products?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                  Regardless of whether or not it has gone downhill, I always return rancid, stale, or just plain don't like it products. The staff have never been anything less than cordial.