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Sep 30, 2001 03:55 AM

My Austin Trader Joes Lament

  • r

I've been lurking for a couple weeks, getting my bearings, and I've got a point that might start a discussion going.

I'm in the same business the Lead Dog Jim is in, and every couple of months I fly out of Austin with a saxophone over my shoulder to work someplace distant. As a one-time southern Californian (glad to be done with that), I have an umbilical attachment to Trader Joes. In the last couple years, I've noticed myself leaving town with an extra suitcase completely empty, and returning with it completely full of coffee, cheeses, chutneys, various eggplant dishes, sweets, canned and bagged Indian main dishes . . . Well, you get the idea.

I realize that distribution is the determining factor in the expansion of TJs, but, now that they are on both east and west coasts, plus in Indiana and Illinois, wouldn't it seem like Austin, home of more food junkies than any place I've ever lived, would be THE place for the first Trader Joes in Texas? (And there are LOTS of guys and gals with Hawaiian shirts who aren't all snobbed out by certain local markets I could name but choose not to who could staff the place.)

Richard Fenno

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  1. Welcome to the chowtalk. You know, I notice there is no Trader Joe's in the big dog's neighborhood either. Maybe they just don't like brass players. Take up a keyboard and see what happens...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Deven Black
      Richard Fenno

      Actually, there are TJ's in suburban Westchester County, where there are many gigs. I was in New England visiting the ancestral homeland at the beginning of the summer and found one outside Worcester (WUH-stah). Geographically the closest one to Austin is Tucson, and don't think I haven't done the math about renting a UHaul truck and setting my stuff in for 4-5 months at a time. Anyway, here's the link to find one near you:


    2. I'd love to see a TJ in Texas also...i have enjoyed it on both coasts also...i'd like to see one in Dallas also...

      1. Update: 6 years later, rumors have come to me that the ink is dry on a lease at TX TJ's #1 in San Antonio. I also had an interesting discussion with the manager at TJ's Santa Fe while on vacation. He said that TJ opened a distrbution center in Arizona to service JUST the Santa Fe store and future expansion. Cuts out a lot of time when the perishables don't have to come from Southern California.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rfenno

          That makes me really excited that someday when I'm back in TX there will be a TJ's waiting for me!!

          The best things about TJ's are definitely NOT the produce, but I guess a lot of the frozen food, and fridge section has to be distributed through that center. SA is a surprising choice, I would expect more customers in Austin, inside the loop Houston, or Dallas.

        2. uhh, NO. Coppell is the distribution hub for TJ's!! Right next to DFW airport, and i've sent them an astonishing number of emails now that beer and wine can even be sold here. Sorry about the jones you have for it, just pack your bags with stuff everytime you travel. and BTW, check out David's Instrument Repair in Carrollton, TX. Master saxophone repairman with beagles-nuf said.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mlschot

            Ditto on the add'l luggage when in a TJ town!
            Here is a link to voice your opinion on a future store.

          2. I have heard that the first TJs will be in the dallas area, not San Antonio. Not sure if that's right, but I work in the grocery biz.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LeroyT

              I agree -- Austin would be a good candidate for the first Texas TJs, but HOUSTON needs one too! We only have one Central Market (Austin has at least two) and just as many foodies as Dallas or SA or Austin. I would gladly drive to Austin/SA/Dallas for business, and throw an extra cooler in the trunk for goodies. C'mon TJs ... what are you waiting for? (standing on the curb with my fork in my hand.....)

              1. re: Cheflambo

                I agree - Houston needs TJs - but if TJs follows most other retailers' Texas expansion patterns, they'll be in Dallas and Austin LONG before they ever get to Houston.

                1. re: jim1126

                  Oh yes, Jim .... I am familar with the pattern. I was a faithful visitor to the original CM in Austin, and every time I went, I stopped at the service center, found the highest ranking manager there, and begged for a Houston store. It CAN happen!

              2. re: LeroyT

                LeroyT, when and where in Dallas?