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How far would you drive to Trader Joe's?

I used to live within a mile of a TJ's and would go at least twice a week. Now I live about 10 miles away and rarely shop there.

On the other hand, Canadian (B.C.) shoppers make regular tips to Bellingham, WA (about 20 miles) and beyond to Seattle.

I guess I'm not a die-hard as I thought I was. :-)

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  1. except for nuts, i have basically given up on trader joe's, so i no longer go out of my way since a bag of almonds lasts me months. if there? i will still buy mustard, frozen artichoke hearts (when they have them), a particular salsa and their european-style yogurt, but these are not die-hard staples for me.

    their cheeses always disappoint, and i do not buy any of their processed or pre-made boxed/frozen stuff. i do not like that all the produce is packed in shrink-wrapped styro containers, so never buy it. i get better prices for avocados at costco.

    i loved it at first, especially when i still ate crackers and bread, but now that i am gluten-free? meh.

    oh, and btw, am in the boston area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I find their cheeses fantastic, and at great prices. What do you find disappointing about them?

    2. I like it, but I'm not a die hard. It's about 5 minutes from me in the same shopping center with my usual Safeway. I probably hit it once a week for a few items, but if it wasn't there, I probably wouldn't go at all.
      I see why people love it, but I'm lucky to have a nearby local specialty foods store that I like a lot better.

      1. The closest TJs to me is a two + hour drive. We try to go there once every few months since it's close to our closest Costco. We stock up on frozen veggies and some other stuff. Nothing major but things we really like and can't get anywhere else (hellllooooo Chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels!).

        We used to live 10 minutes away from one and made about the same number of trips; once every couple months. Now we live in the middle of nowhere. Trade offs.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dee S

          Curious how you get frozen foods home in 2+ hours? Do you bring dry ice in a chest?

          1. re: josephnl

            Not Dee but when I go to places like Costco that are a decent drive away, I bring a cooler with ice packs. We have a few different ones of varying sizes. I also usually have a soft sided one in the car at all times.

            1. re: josephnl

              We make a day out of it and hit several stores so we have coolers and plan our trip so we hit the store with the most frozen/refrigerated items last. TJs sells frozen bottles of water for 19 cents so we use those in place of ice. Tightly packed, the coolers work great, even on hot TN days.

              No dry ice is needed. The freezer is well organized and prepared for the new stock in advance so it's a quick unload.

              We have driven 5 hours (made a weekend out of it) to hit a TJs in the past. In that case, we did dry goods shopping earlier and saved the frozen stuff for last. It's all about how well you can pack your coolers.

          2. When the ones near me get built, it'll be about 45-60 minutes for either location. I'll probably go every couple months to stock up on a few things from there that I like and have missed having, but I don't plan on making it a weekly trip or anything like that.

            To be fair, I live in the middle of nowhere and pretty much any specialty store is at least a half hour away, so an hour isn't that crazy. Only store near me is the regular grocery store.

            2 Replies
            1. re: juliejulez

              I'm in the same boat; middle of nowhere. Local stores are Kroger and Walmart with no specialty stores at all. Dislike both but deal with it for weekly shopping. Both of those are about a 15 minute drive (doing 60 MPH or so) so there are no special trips.

              The closest store we have now is a Dollar General and the "staples" are way overinflated. We're getting a Food Giant later this year but that's not much to be thankful for.

              1. re: Dee S

                Yup, same here. There's a King Soopers (which is Kroger) about 10 min away. Up in the nearest town about 15-20 minutes away there's a Wal-Mart, which I avoid at all costs, Target, which I find to not be much cheaper than the regular store closer to the house, and a Safeway, but it's very old and small. I do work in a more populous area, but there still isn't much to pick from. I did recently learn that there's some ethnic markets near my office, but without some decent planning and coming up with a list, that's not very convenient anyway.

            2. When they eventually open the Trader Joe's in Boca Raton, I'll make DH take me up there to check it out... it's about an hour's drive. But I wouldn't know if I'd go there regularly until I've seen it...

              1. If my bed were smack in the middle of one, I would not roll out of it.

                1. Tray Joe's is less than a five minute drive from my home. I don't go to Joe's a lot. The reason being is that most of the time, it just doesn't enter my mind because I go to Wegman's. However, I do go to Joe's for Marscapone cheese--as Joe's has, hands down, THE best price. Then when I get there I usually say to myself "Duh....the cheese prices here are really great!". I also get my seaweed snacks there as well. Now you have me thinking that I really need to go to Joe's more often!

                  1. I used to drive over an hour each way, although only about once every few months. Fortunately, I'm much closer now.

                    1. Currently live 1.5 hours away from one and 2 hours from a different one. Love Trader Joe's, just a bit too far to justify every day shopping. But I love getting my snacks from there.

                      1. yes, some of us need a passport to get the nearest TJ's.

                        we just don't get those who "don't get" TJ's ; )

                        move away, then you might miss it ; )

                        clearly, it is not our every day shopping go to.

                        1. It's a five hour ride for me. Only go to TJ's when I'm up viting in Maryland. I load up on everything a few months at a time. But technically, I guess it's really 1 1/2 hours. There's one in Va Beach, I've never been to. Not worth the drive!

                          1. I live in Brooklyn and don't drive, but I take the MTA bus from home to the Brooklyn TJ's and back about once a week. About 20 minutes' ride.

                            1. I drive an hour and half once a month to get my tj faves

                              1. We drive about 50 miles to the nearest TJs, but we really go to that strip mall for Penzey's. TJ's was just a happy accident that we found when Penzey's opened there.

                                1. The nearest TJs is about an hour away and I make the trip about twice a year. I make a day of it with trips to the West Side Market in Cleveland, Penzeys and 2-3 ethnic grocery stores, plus Whole Foods.

                                  1. Before they were in San Diego I would drive fifty miles to Orange County (Disneyland) and take the coast back. My niece drives two hours from Miami to Naples. (I now drive three miles and I am happy to say my normal travels take me past at least 8 stores.) I love them.

                                    1. my closest one is about 2 hours away, while I don't make a special trip, when I am in the city for social interaction and culture etc., I def. make a stop there and at an international market to stock up on things I just can't find out here.

                                      1. It really depends on what kind of car I am driving.

                                        1. The nearest TJ's to our home is 20-25 mins if we don't hit lunch or work traffic. But I still find myself stopping in not planning to go most of the time. mostly because while I do have some TJ favorites-they are mostly seasonal and I know I can't do my entire weekly shopping at TJ's and get everything I need.

                                          I wish my location sold wine & spirits.

                                          1. The closest TJ's to me (Annapolis) is a 2-2.5 hour drive away plus I have to pay the $6 Chespeake bay bridge toll on the way home. My brother lives there though so visiting him is always an excuse to go there (or is it the other way around??). I'd like to go more but it's probably only a few times a year. I do recruit my bro to bring me certain items when he visits.

                                            1. I'm so spoiled; I live in the birthplace of TJ's and have at least 5 within 10 miles of me.
                                              I'm not sure how far I'd drive for one, because I've never had to even think about it. And oddly enough, I'm kind of new to TJ's even though they are so numerous. It's been a fun discovery. :-) These boards are really opening my eyes and pushing me to try some of TJ's specialties.

                                              *brain flash* I realize why I never shopped at them for so many years....most of them have postage-stamp sized parking lots. A few years ago they built a new store here with a HUGE parking lot, which has made the whole trek much more pleasant.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: PasadenaRose

                                                that is true - in the 90's their parking lots in LA were miniscule. I never noticed much in SF as it was on a coupla major transit lines.

                                              2. When I lived right between TJs that were about 6 or 7 miles apart I went as often as I had other occasion to drive near one of them. That was maybe once or twice a month.

                                                Now I have one about a mile away. When I drive I may be there twice a day (if I have a shopping list that doesn't necessarily mean I'll find it when I want it). When I walk I probably still go every other day.

                                                And when I lived in Vancouver it was well before the spread of TJs but I still made the monthly trip to Bellingham for gas/milk/postage and things my kids missed most from American groceries. The good news was back then, when fast food places in Vancouver weren't allowed to offer Happy Meals and other kid-targeting incentives but American TV advertised them regularly, I could bring back a dozen of them. I started off once I'd dropped the kids off at school. Then, by the time I was picking them up after school, the burgers were cold but the toys were HOT and we were the most popular people in the neighborhood! ; >

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  eww rainey - cold burgers are kinda OK, french fries are not.

                                                  but those toys...

                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                    I'm sure the food got tossed. The food wasn't really the point. ; >

                                                2. one just opened after much hoopla about 15 minutes from my house.... havent been yet

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                    I suppose you won't be driving there, will you?

                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                      wellllll that may have something to do with it now that you mention it.... stupid busy parental units

                                                      1. re: girloftheworld

                                                        The reason I asked is that I wasn't sure if you were old enough to drive yet.

                                                    2. re: girloftheworld

                                                      Know that practically nobody goes grocery shopping the two days after Thanksgiving, if you want to have the luxury of checking out all the aisles at TJs in a non-frenzied fashion.

                                                    3. I drive 20 minutes to Trader Joe's once a week, it's on the way to Wegmans which is a must stop and 30 minutes away. I wouldn't drive more than 30 minutes just to go to TJs.

                                                      1. When I lived in Memphis, TN I would drive to St. Louis, MO to the closest TJ's. That was 4 1/2 hours each way. I'd do this about once a month, and I'd also hit "The Hill", which is the Italian area of St. Louis.

                                                        Here in TX the closest one is about 30 miles away, but that is where any decent shopping is. I have Friday afternoons off, so I make a big loop of Costco, TJ's & Sprouts, most of the time I don't have to go to all three. I miss all the weekend crowds and traffic as well.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                                          Barbara - if you ever still go to STL for whatever reason, they just expanded and redid the Brentwood TJ's - No More Claustrophobia! and fewer bumped carts!

                                                        2. hmmm... TJ's is at the end of my block, less than a 2-minute walk, and I don't own a car, so under the circumstances I wouldn't drive very far at all to it (if I could!). But if I lived elsewhere, and had a car, I would say maybe half an hour (or more if other destinations were near it), and I'd stock up bigtime!

                                                          1. If I had to decide how far I would drive to Trader Joe's as a destination for shipping, I'd say the answer would be about 160 feet.

                                                            21 Replies
                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              you'd drive 160 feet? well you're not winning any sustainability awards this year pal!

                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                I think you missed my point. That's the farthest I would drive. If in fact there was a Trader Joe's within 100 feet of my house, the farthest I would walk to shop at a Trader Joe's would be about 38 feet.

                                                                  1. re: Violatp

                                                                    Apparently, I'm not a fan of their shipping either.

                                                                    (It's not that I dislike Trader Joe's, I just don't understand all the excitement people seem to have about that particular chain of grocery stores.)

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      It's a discount grocery store. What's not to like?
                                                                      I walk 6 miles (round trip) when I go.

                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                        I don't really consider Trader Joe's to be a discount grocery store. Winco is a discount, Aldi is a discount store, but Trader Joe's?

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          It is. Their prices on those fancy spanish almonds were the same as Costco.
                                                                          They tend to have the highest grade of whatever their buyers can grab for cheap, but they're definitely on the bottom line.

                                                                          And they are way way cheaper than whole foods!

                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                            I only go to WF about twice a year, and then I usually only buy bulk tea. There is not a WF conveniently located for us.

                                                                            The whole Trader Joe's experience just does not do it for me.

                                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                                    Curious…what is it that you would shop for if TJ's were 25' away, but wouldn't want to walk 100' feet for?

                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                      I would walk 25' for bucatini pasta, if they still had it. I would walk 25' for the small artichokes I got there one spring but never found them on return visits. I might walk 25' for some of their cheap wine. I would not walk 100' feet for much else. I just don't understand the hype. (Plus, I'm having a little fun here.)

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        Suggest you look closer and I think you will find things at TJ's that you would likely buy elsewhere, but for a lower price…things like wonderful Greek feta in brine, Jarlsberg cheese, stalks of brussels sprouts, Greek kalamata olives, frozen phyllo or puff pastry, etc., etc. Not everything at TJ's is terrific or necessarily a good buy, but if you carefully peruse what they have, you will discover many good products at prices that are tough to beat.

                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                          There is a new Trader Joe's located within my 'trading area' and I might stop in ocassionally, but I still don't have much of a desire to visit too often. The place just does not excite me. Plus, buying bananas by anything but per pound is rediculous.

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            'buying bananas by anything but per pound is rediculous'

                                                                            Not for someone who is picking up a quick lunch, snack, out of their home area or has a hungry child. By the each (apples and oranges are sold that way also) affords people a healthy alternative to buying fast food or skipping a meal altogether.

                                                                            "My" TJs is right across the street from a Hospital and I see workers as well as visiting families shopping, grabbing quick meals instead of going to the Hospital Cafeteria.

                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                              Oh, I don't have a problem with anyone shopping at Trader Joe's. I don't have a problem with anybody buying a single banana, or a single orange, I've done that myself. I just think pricing fruit in a grocery store by the item instead of by the pound is somewhat silly.

                                                                              If there was a Trader Joe's across the street from a hospital and I was visiting someone at the hospital, I'd likely walk across the street to shop at the Trader Joe's. My mother spent a lot of time in hospitals at the end of her life, once in the ICU on a respirator for 11 days and then 28 more in a regular room.

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                Just why is pricing fruit by the piece "silly"? I sort of like knowing that a Sunkist lemon is 39 cents at TJ's vs. $1.29 for the identical Sunkist lemon at our nearby upscale Gelson's market.

                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                  Just my opinion, that's all. We rarely buy lemons. Only of we need the zest. My father has 2 lemon trees at his winter house in Arizona. We have a lot of frozen lemon juice.

                                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                                  Pricing items by the pound means having scales at each checkout, which means regular inspections by Dept of Weights and Measures as well as cashiers memorizing codes. It's a cost saving measure.

                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                            Sounds like you don't like it because other people do. Look past the hype and you'll see it's a great store.

                                                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                              No, that's not it at all. I did not post my opinion on Trader Joe's to anyone in particular, I was just using sarcasm and people have kept replying to me in what appears to be an attempt to change my opinion. I just don't get all the enthusiasm for Trader Joe's, and I specifically have said it does not bother me if others do enjoy it.

                                                                              On a similar thread, I have posted good things about Aldi. Others do not shop there and it doesn't bother me in the least.

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                Yeah, getting premium products at discount prices really sucks. You aren't missing a thing.

                                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                  dawg...I've been to various Trader Joe's many times at many locations. I've just never been wowed by the experience. I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, but apparently I'm not alone with this opinion.

                                                                  3. 10-12 years ago I drove about 25 minutes to get to my nearest Trader Joe's. There's now one about 7 minutes away and I rarely go there anymore. The other stores are catching up and the appeal is nearly gone.

                                                                    1. We make a 1 hour and 10 minute trip to the closest Trader Joe's with wine every 4-6 months. We usually hit up the non-wine store that is 30 minutes away once in between.

                                                                      I'm lucky because I have family members who make the 30 minute drive every week so I almost always have their canned cat food, olive oil, and tea tree tingle shampoo/conditioner/body wash on hand at all times. I'm training them to bring me the unripened brie as well now.

                                                                      1. I make a six mile round trip. By foot.
                                                                        Can't be arsed to get a car.

                                                                        1. I lived a 10 min walk away from one for over a decade and only went in there once

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                            Try it again...with an open mind. Although not everything at TJ's is wonderful, many things are very good and much less expensive than elsewhere.

                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                              It'd now be a bus ride instead of a short walk, and there are 3 grocery settees (plus a myriad of specialty markets) within a 10 min walk of me. There's nothing it can offer me.

                                                                          2. I live about 3.5 miles from TJ's and I went there once. I don't understand the fascination with it, I personally find TJ's lacking in products and quality yet overpriced for most of what they do have. My future wife (heh, she doesn't know this yet...) took me into one and asked me to get lasagna...the pasta section didn't even have a place labeled for lasagne.

                                                                            Wegman's (in the north east) and Hy-Vee (mid-west) are the best.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: HeBrew

                                                                              Yeah, it's not really a place to go for a lot of staples, or to fill a specific need. It's obviously much smaller than a traditional grocery store...it's more of a specialty market. And your "overpriced" comment is patently absurd. Anyone who has ever actually shopped there (you've been once?) would never make that observation.

                                                                            2. The novelty has worn out for me. Up until 3.5 years ago TJ's was a regular stop. Don't miss it. Now that we are empty-nesters I find that we eat simpler. I loved cooking for my children when they were living at home (protein, carb, fresh vegetable, and dessert). It was an adjustment when they flew the coop, but I am pleased to see that they've mostly continued eating the way that I started them.