Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chains >
Aug 13, 2013 05:30 AM

How to survive without Trader Joes & Costco???

Hi All! So I live in grocery store paradise now--1 m from Trader Joe's, 1.5 mi from Whole Foods, 4 mi from Costco, a bit farther from a couple of great farmer's markets in the summer... there's also a Super Target and so normal grocery stores nearby, though I don't frequent those as much. Over the past 3 yrs that we've lived here, I've gotten to the point that I do about 1/2 of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's (breads, frozen veg, some produce, chicken sausage, nuts & dried fruit, etc.), and 1/2 at Costco (tons of produce, diary, deli meat, nut butters, baking, meatless products, bulk meat, cheese, and non-food items like diapers & paper products).
And now we're moving.
To St. Joseph, MI, which has only normal grocery stores. I'm kind of devastated. (Well, the homemaker part of me is. Otherwise I'm excited.)
St. Joseph is 90 min east of Chicago, which of course has TJs & Costco, so I could potentially do a monthly stock-up trip at my two favorite stores. But I am so used to going to Costco about 2x/mo and TJs weekly, that I am just bracing for a painful withdrawal...
Has anyone had to give up these stores? Or even if you haven't, do you have any ideas on how to make do, without breaking the bank??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I live four hours from the closest Costco/TJs, so, I feel your pain. ;) I'm only able to do stock-up trips every three months (don't forget your cooler!). In the meantime, I rely on local specialty shops & health food stores -however...interesting... they may be ;)- as well as making use of local farm stands & markets. Prices will generally be higher at local shops, so I do try to wait for sales.
    I'd say what helps me get through withdrawals is finding one little gem and savoring it until the next trip! Our motto is "enjoy this place for what it IS, and don't resent it for what it is not."
    Hope this helps!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tokyo

      Good attitude! I'm trying to keep in mind that I grocery shop to live, not live to grocery shop... I think it'll be an adjustment to forge new habits, but hopefully I'll adapt :)

      1. We have both (TJ's only recently) and I rarely visit them and would quite easily live without them. I prefer the local markets and particularly the ethnic markets. Moving away from the box stores may be the best thing that could happen to your dinner table and open your world to better foods than they can offer. As to diapers, that's another matter. Good luck with the move.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Lambowner

          The OP is moving to a community of 8,000 with virtually no demographic diversity, versus your home of Houston with over 2 million people and nearly every nationality represented. How many local and ethnic markets do you think the OP will find?

          1. re: carolinadawg

            Yup, St. Joe is pretty white bread... blah

            1. re: lauraghall

              I've always liked St. Joe! And it's in the midst of some beautiful wine country, and the most gorgeous beaches you could ask for.

            2. re: carolinadawg

              Well 6 million in the metro area actually, so yes that is a bonus to living here. People don't move to Houston for the weather. But the question is, would I miss those two stores? No. But I would be excited about searching for local produce and other foodstuffs. Immigrants have settled all over. I used to live in Missouri. I'm sure she will find lots of good things. And with Chicago so close, well that is enviable!

              1. re: Lambowner

                Is she moving to St. Joseph Michigan or Missouri?.

                1. re: treb

                  Well I read Missouri, but looking up St. Joseph, Michigan, it looks even better!

                  1. re: treb

                    St. Joseph, Michigan--sorry, should have specified!

                    1. re: lauraghall

                      Another tid bit to consider, I have the exec membership and between that and the Costco free AMEX, I receive back about 500.00 per year (and that's just normal shopping) nothing extraordinary. It will more than pay for the membership, gas and time plus you get better quality than a super market..

                      1. re: treb

                        I agree. We have the exec membership too, and my husband is always equally excited by the rebate and astounded by how much we spend at Costco. (We got back $182 last year... which means we spent avg. $758/mo, including new mattresses and some household items.)
                        I am pretty sure that we will keep the membership even with moving, though. And buy a large freezer for the basement/garage.

                      2. re: lauraghall

                        You did specify! MI is Mich, MO is Missouri.

              2. On the plus side, you'll never be wanting for blueberries in the summer, you're close to Meijer and right down the road from the Blue Plate (great breakfasts).

                4 Replies
                1. re: ferret

                  True story. I used to live in Ann Arbor, and Meijer was a fav.
                  We picked up a pint of MI blueberries at a farm stand when we visited the area last weekend, and snacked on them on the plane on the return flight. Perfection!
                  I suppose that's a key here: adapt and focus on the fabulous things that are available, instead of whining about not being able to do things the old way...

                  1. re: lauraghall

                    And you are in a pretty State to boot ... and although inferior, you are about 30 miles from a Sam's Club in Mishawaka [South Bend], IN.

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      It is beautiful, overall I am really looking forward to it. This thread is really helping my positive outlook :D

                  2. re: ferret

                    I live in Grand Rapids, and at least for "regular groceries," I definitely wouldn't underestimate Meijer; they're in fact one of the main reasons why Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are so reluctant to enter West Michigan (and also why the Wal-Marts around here have few customers and are rather devoid of grocery offerings). Their various stores tend to be a little different, but they've all come a long way from the old "Thrifty Acres" days and now have what I think is a great selection at great prices, using local suppliers when possible/practical and offering a lot of organic and ethnic options. Check the weekly ads.

                    As a slightly funny aside, my husband's grandparents, when they used to visit from the East Coast, actually used to make a point to go to Meijer (in Grand Haven) every day because they were so amazed.

                  3. I also am blessed with 2 Costco's near by, couldn't live without them. I'd suggest that you plan for a well organized monthly trip and do some significant stocking up. Shopping at regular grocery stores will put a huge dent in your budget and probably motivate you to make the trek to Costco.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: treb

                      We've not live as far as OP will from a Costco but we used to make a 100 mile RT and, as you say, we'd go about once a month. Take the cooler, do other shopping, have a nice lunch, etc. We did fine.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Well, the 90-mile trip may not be the shortest but the Costco does come attached to Chicago.

                      2. I feel your pain. I live 2 1/2-3 hours from a Costco in Fargo, and 6 hours from another near my daughter in Minneapolis. Occasionally, I go with her. I was told by a Costco clerk in Fargo last summer that we were getting one in Bismarck. I could not find anything on their website saying they were coming here. I'm so disappointed.
                        Regarding TJoes, we get to Minneapolis about 3 times a year and load up with lots of dry goods and a small cooler. I'll keep hoping with our growing economy that one or both will eventually come here. We have a Sam's, but I don't like it nearly as well as Costco so I don't belong. We have three nice grocery stores, but neither have as many choices and the quality I find at Trader Joes and Costco. I'm going to consider joining because I get to Fargo 3-4 times a year. I'd bring a big cooler so I could haul home some decent seafood.