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Anyone else giving up their Supermarkets for Costco/Trader Joe's. .

After dealing with sub par quality of produce, rude employee's, high prices at my local supermarket, I decided I am done with them.

I am shopping exclusively at Costco, Trader Joe's and Sprouts..
I'm saving money, enjoying higher end products, not experiencing Tourette's Syndrome when leaving the store and my blood pressure is down..
How great is that!

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  1. I tend to shop Costco and a grocery store.
    We don't have TJ's here and my one experience in Phoenix was a complete and utter waste of time. Was excited to see what it was and left bewildered by the popularity.


    24 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      TJ is a discount grocery store that sells quality own-brand products. They're also fiendishly good at advertising.

      1. re: Chowrin

        What kind of advertising does Trader Joe's do? Other than the weekly direct mail piece, I've never seen any advertising for them.

        I'd describe TJ's as more of a specialty store than a discount store, although I think their prices are excellent.

        1. re: carolinadawg

          It's not even a weekly flyer, more like monthly or quarterly. I think that and word of mouth are their only advertising. Maybe that's why Chowrin describes it as fiendishly good.

          1. re: AmyH

            They've been running radio ads here (MSP/STPL) lately. Maybe becayse they just opened a new store (although they've had several stores in the area for a few years now). The add is very generic - no mention of the store addition or location.

            1. re: Pwmfan

              They do radio ads in the SF Bay Area too. I think they may run those more before a holiday promoting their specialty products.

          2. re: carolinadawg

            It's a discount store. They regularly buy overflows, and have excellent buyers.
            The direct mail piece is the advertising. They are really good at doing it, and doing it cheaply. (plus word of mouth, but thats free)

            1. re: Chowrin

              "They regularly buy overflows..."

              I don't think that's true. They have specific products manufactured for them, under their own name, but that's not the same thing. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing a brand name product in TJ's, which is what "overflows" would be. That's more like the business model of Big Lots.

              I don't think their success is based on the flier, lol.

              1. re: carolinadawg

                They are not a liquidator of overstock. They negotiate and lock in low prices with suppliers which may result in dropping products entirely when they can't get a new contract on favorable terms.

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    ah, sorry. i'm apparently misusing technical terms again.

                    1. re: carolinadawg

                      "They regularly buy overflows."

                      Not any more, but way, way back when in the seventies, that actually was their business model. They started out as a 7-11 kind of place and then turned into a kind of Job Lot of packaged pantry items, like capers and mustard. No fresh produce of any kind - though I think they did have milk and butter. My bargain hunter parents were crazy for the one in Eagle Rock (CA) which I believe was one of the first ones. For myself I was especially interested in their amazing selection of super cheap imported beer. For a while you could get a six pack of Tsingtao in glass bottles for 75 cents - not for one bottle, for the whole six pack, seriously.

                    2. re: Chowrin

                      Chowrin: you don't have your facts straight.
                      overflows are not their fundamental sources of product.
                      i have two friends who had been "regular" suppliers to TJ's for years.
                      one, (RIP) made a line of refrigerated salad dressing for them for decades. periodically the line would be "updated" but still, none of it was the result of overflows. TJ's was his primary customer. he bottled his overflows to sell to other entities.
                      the other, who is still a TJ's supplier, has been importing dried fruit and packaging it for TJ's for over a decade. every single bit of his product is sold to TJ's or discarded.

                      1. re: Chowrin

                        TJs does not sell overflows.

                        They do not sell any brand name goods. They only sell their own brand.

                        And I've only seen their advertising once or twice in the 10 years that they've had stores here.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          They do sell non-TJ branded items like wine, cream, eggs, cereal, etc.

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            yogurt and crackers; soap and sparkling water too

                          2. re: C. Hamster

                            I've also been able to buy things like Morningstar Farms products and Dorot garlic cubes at my TJ's (in the Boston area), though I don't know about overflows.

                        2. re: carolinadawg

                          I've never seen a TJ's ad on TV (other than the sign on the fence at Comerica Park) but they frequently do radio ads in our area

                        3. re: Chowrin

                          actually TJ's is not a grocery store.
                          their food model is much closer to that of a food broker or a food specialty store.
                          they make no attempt to be all things to all people.

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            Lately their produce has looked really pathetic.

                            1. re: treb

                              Its interesting to read that, and I see it on here frequently. Apparently, the quality of TJ's produce varies greatly throughout the country. Its always been great here in NC, but I do read comments on here from other areas saying its bad, or its good.

                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                carolinadawg, I am also in NC and I would agree with you that in general, their produce is good, or at least better than what other grocers such as Harris Teeter and Lowes offer. However, it also seems to be inconsistent. At my store, for instance, I've noticed that it's much better on weekdays, whereas on the weekends, the produce is subpar and sometimes downright pathetic. So if I stop by on a weekend, it's only to check out the "opportunity" deals on specialty items such as Brussels sprout stalks.

                                Have you noticed any inconsistency at your location?

                                1. re: ohmyyum

                                  No, I haven't noticed that inconsistentcy, although most of my visits are on the weekend, so it I may not be aware of it! I go to the Charlotte store at The Metropolitan about 99% of the time.

                                  1. re: ohmyyum

                                    Yes! The produce is really inconsistent. I never buy produce from TJ s because of the quality issues, unless something strikes my eye like last years *stunning* and practically free artichokes. I still dream of them

                          2. Nope. Still quite happy with our local Wegmans & sometimes Weis and Giant.

                            TJ's is just a minor stop on the way for particular items. And no Costco in town.

                            11 Replies
                              1. re: HillJ

                                PA chain. Not all that great, but they carry my favorite brands of pickles and bacon.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  So I'm not the only one stopping at a grocer for 1-2 items and that's it! :)

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Well, this store's actually much closer for me than Wegmans or TJ's. They recently revamped/renovated (surely due to competitive pressure coming from Wegmans, TJ's and Giant), so maybe they got some other things worth buying these days.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      no. I walk to the local supermarket for milk. it's about all i'll buy there.

                                    2. re: linguafood

                                      I still can't find those darn pickles. What's your favorite bacon?

                                    3. re: HillJ

                                      Its a Pennsylvania based supermarket chain with locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia.


                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                        I'm in NJ a long time and I learned something today.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Three NJ locations nowhere near me, that explains it!

                                    4. re: linguafood

                                      Same here, Wegmans for the bulk of things, Trader Joe's weekly for particular items never spend more than $30 usually, $50 has been the most. Whole Foods for other particular items like cheese, beef, and deli meats.

                                    5. Here....Here.....! My experience is exactly what you've stated, saving money and getting better quality products. I only purchase minimal items from a super market and have been doing this for many years. I just got tired of getting crappy products and robbed.

                                      1. I totally did back in '03 during the horrible SoCal grocery strike in which employers shut employees out over Christmas rather than provide them with decent health care.

                                        I found that, far from a hardship, shifting my basic buying to Costco and TJs was a total win.

                                        I still go to a couple chain markets (Whole Foods and Gelson's who signed the sweetheart deals back in '03) but it's less often than once a month now and only for specific things.

                                        I've got a great farm stand nearby and a variety of farmers' markets for produce.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rainey

                                          TJ's recently cancelled healthcare coverage for it's part timers.

                                          1. re: treb

                                            I've read that but here is their explanation. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/w...

                                            I find it credible. …insofar as I understand anything about the labyrinthine dimensions of insurance (including my own). YMMV but I'm keeping an open mind.

                                        2. Simply not possible based on produce alone. While I certainly enjoy the produce at Costco, it's a far more limited selection that the produce stores or H-Mart in my area. Trader Joe's produce is not a draw for me. Very limited selection and the quality doesn't "wow" me.

                                          1. Not enough diversity of products @ TJ's for me. Organic is not a total must for me. So, roughly two dozen items from TJ's and the rest culled from about eight other markets every 2 weeks (from big box store to farm). Not including the fishmonger or butcher though.

                                            1. I don't spend much in regular grocery stores. When I do, it tends to be Safeway for onesie-twosie items.

                                              Mainly Costco and one of several Korean megamarts are where I spend most food dollars.

                                              1. I have a wide variety of grocery stores to choose from and favorite products at each one. Those include big Asian and Latino supermarkets as well as the usual suspects of Giant, Safeway, and Shopper's. I also go sometimes to BJs which is very close to me. TJ has too many bad products to sustain my interest, though worth a stop every now and then. Costco too far.

                                                1. Forgot to add the fab Farmers Markets around SD County..
                                                  Also, the Mexican and Asian markets rock!

                                                  5 Replies
                                                    1. re: treb

                                                      Interesting..thought you lived here sledge.

                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                        Just celebrated the Red Sox World Series in BOS. Are you confusing me with someone else? Who's sledge?

                                                        1. re: treb

                                                          From your early postings on the SD board, thought you were a local.
                                                          My bad.


                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                            I've been visiting, week-ends etc, SD for over 20 years, love the area a lot. No harm, no foul. I've also been visiting Maui and other parts of HI for over 30 years. Just me I guess!

                                                  1. I was in the .99 cent Only store the other day and WOW, their produce was really nice..
                                                    Bought 3 bunches of green onions in a bag that were washed thrice, big bag of radishes, cleaned washed, 3 portobella mushrooms, pound of asparagus, baby carrots family size..all for $5 bucks!

                                                    Also, they had the European butter by Challenge for a $1 and the unsweetend Ice Tea by Gold Peak gallon size all naturally brewed..

                                                    Shoots and scores..big time!

                                                    1. I find that I save money by buying the Whole Foods 365 house brand over foods from the local dominant grocery store chain (Stop & Shop), which is insane. Between Whole Foods and BJs (Costco-like membership warehouse), I have just about zero use for the traditional grocery chains. I dabble in TJs here and there but I don't buy much in the way of their prepared foods and everything else at TJs I can find at Whole Foods for roughly the same price (WF is closer to me geographically then TJs, hence them always having the edge).


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: mels

                                                        I think proximity makes a HUGE difference.

                                                        I have a TJs within walking distance and Costco is on my route between home and my grandson's preschool. I take him with me once a week on my day to retrieve him. He loves the samples, gets to practice his manners ("may I please have some?" "thank you") and if that isn't enough I can get a cheap carwash while we're in there and we usually hit it while a commuter train goes by with the whistle and the whole deal. ; >

                                                      2. Trader Joe's is too far from me (although I keep meaning to check it out, it's been awhile) and I don't have a membership to Costco. For being a single household, I don't see myself going that often if I did get a membership. My parent's have a membership for the infrequent times I want to go. As far as regular grocery stores, within varying distances of 5-15 minutes from me, I have a Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Safeway, Giant, Food Lion, and Shoppers. I feel the same way that you feel with most of them except for Harris Teeter and Wegmans. Especially with employee satisfaction.

                                                        I was at my local Giant last week and hopped to pick up a rotisserie chicken. A rotisserie chicken that was being sold for $4 more than what Wegmans sells theirs for, so already, I wasn't too happy about that. This was at 6 pm, and they literally had only 1 sitting out, 1 that when I looked at it, had been packed at 12:30 that afternoon. I asked the lady behind the counter if they had anymore, or if they could make me a fresh one, and she said they don't make more until they sell all the ones that are already out. Whatever.....I walked away and didn't buy it.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: SaraAshley

                                                          One reason even small families can benefit from Costco. They turn those puppies over! A chicken is cheap, good and hasn't sat for more than 90 minutes if that.

                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                            Yeah, I ended up going to Harris Teeter after that and bought one. The ones they had sitting out had been packed at 4:30.

                                                          2. re: SaraAshley

                                                            I'm not a big fan of WalMart, but a new one opened near me (well, 25 minutes away) and their rotisserie chickens for $4.98 are excellent! Stopped in at 6:30PM and they were just packaging a fresh batch.

                                                          3. They're my preferred places to shop. Milk and frozen stuff's a bit difficult to get home without buying a car, though.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                              Have you looked into some sort of trolley for hauling groceries by foot? I have a folding one that looks like something like a golf cart that I can hang bags of food on. Some are folding fabric sleeves on wheels. And TJs has cheap insulated bags.

                                                              These are also very helpful for farmers' markets where you end up hauling a lot from booth to booth before you're done.

                                                            2. I used to do all my shopping at the supermarket, except for produce from the farmers market in the summer. Then a little over a year ago Trader Joe's opened here. Then our local food co-op moved to a big beautiful store with a decent parking lot. Now my first stop on my weekly grocery run is to Trader Joe's (before they get too crowded) for basics, cheese, yogurt, bread, cookies, etc. Then to the co-op for the most gorgeous organic and conventional produce including fair trade bananas and 84 different varieties of apples this fall. Then it's to the supermarket (Hannaford) for whatever's left, mainly lunchmeat, the cereals Mr. H likes, pet food, and not much else. I used to spend over $200 per week at the supermarket, now I'm down to usually less than $50.
                                                              Edited to add: we don't have Costco here. When we get one, I may never go to the supermarket again.

                                                              1. We typically go to Sprouts, Central Market, Trader Joes, a local Italian shop and then get paper towels, etc at the supermarket

                                                                1. Much as I love some of Trader Joe's products, like some of the marinated meat that's hard to find elsewhere, I can't stand their bakery products, they always go moldy on me, and some of their frozen stuff.... I so wanted to like their chicken egg rolls, but I'm convinced they either never tested them or tested their instructions, as every time I've made them, using the directions, they are still cold in the middle. Makes me wonder.... So I only shop there occasionally and am quite careful about what I pick up.... Costco is great for cleaning & plastic products, and a few things in bulk like coffee beans, cheese & bacon, but everything else goes bad before I can use it. So, those stores only supplement my trips to my local supermarkets, as I have three to choose from, they have good prices and I can always find what I want, like my brand of TP without compromising.....

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                    I buy very particular things from Trader Joe's I skip the frozen and most of the refrigerated aisle. I get turkey breasts since they cut them as breasts vs tenders, cheese, and a few other staples like stock, olive oil, etc, but never leave with much. Nevertheless, it's still a critical stop on my grocery rotation which I will admit includes 3 stores every week and additional specialty stores like the cheeseshop and Italian deli on other weeks.

                                                                  2. I do 90% of my shopping at TJ's. The other 10% is split between Whole Foods (mostly for 365 products and produce), farmer's markets, the kosher market and the Asian market nearby.

                                                                    TJ's and WF are both within walking distance. WF is about .5 a mile and TJ's is about a mile. The other major grocery chains are farther, so that's not even a draw.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jmarya

                                                                      Wow, I'm impressed with 90% at TJs

                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                        For more context, I shop for myself only (no kids, I have a BF who I don't live with). I love cooking and baking, but I tend to cook myself simple meals (roast vegetables, chicken or fish with a simple lemon juice/hot sauce prep, rice or pasta.)

                                                                        I think TJ's is really well-suited as a primary grocery store for people like me but if I were shopping for my sister's family (four kids) I can see how it would fall short.

                                                                    2. I've been to TJ's, but found very little I wanted to buy. I don't get the appeal. It would be impossible for me to use it as my main market, although I can see getting specialty items there now and then.

                                                                      The employees at my regular supermarket are not rude, they are friendly and helpful. In addition to my one regular place, I also go to two other supermarkets for items which my regular doesn't carry, and to an international grocery for certain items available only there. Also I go to Grocery Outlet now and then to see if they have any good deals on something I want. TJ's is off the bottom of the list.

                                                                      Costco? Isn't it members only? My brother is into it, but it's not for me. I don't even know if there's one near me.

                                                                      1. I shop at all of them, but for different things.

                                                                        Costco's meat and produce tend to come in too large of quantities for a small household - especially one with limited freezer space. I buy whole chickens there, since they have the best price locally, and in summer fresh limes. Occasionally when the stars line up correctly and I'm at Costco at the same time as their fish people and they have whole salmon I'll buy one to make lox, among other things. They're great for beverages, though.

                                                                        Trader Joe's is my go-to place for inexpensive wines, nuts, sometimes pasta, and frozen tamales. One year they had the best canned tomatoes I've ever had, but nothing like them recently. I think they've gotten too large and can't keep up the same quality and selection for all their stores. I haven't been favorably impressed with their produce, either.

                                                                        I shop a local grocery for most perishables - milk, eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, as well as the farmers' market in season. There's also a corner store for when I just need some milk or coffee or bread, and a Mexican supermarket a short walk away for peppers.

                                                                        I know what you mean about the Tourette's: I used to shop at a non-defunct supermarket that had great meats, but the shoppers tended to walk around in a daze, frequently bumping into me. I finally figured it out: the store was across the street from a large medical center, and they worked out an agreement - free groceries with every lobotomy! :-)

                                                                        1. I go to at least 2-3 places a week. Always TJ, always the "regular" supermarket and maybe twice a month to Costco. Plus sometimes I will be at Target and buy some stuff there.

                                                                          1. I don't think I'd be able to exclusively shop at any of those. I shop at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Wegmans/Safeway for various different items that I go there specifically for.

                                                                            1. I rarely shop at a regular chain grocery store.

                                                                              I typically shop at a Mexican mart, Asian stores, Eastern European store, open produce market, butcher shop, Internet, and less frequently -trader joes. I used to shop at costco but I haven't been there for about a year. Not sure I will renew my membership.

                                                                              Occasionally, I shop at a regular really high end store for something "esoteric" that I can't get elsewhere. Sometimes I will shop at a "cash and carry" type restaurant supply store but the quantities are huge.

                                                                              I gave up shopping at regular stores many years ago and don't miss them. I don't buy processed foods though, so there is nothing I can't get elsewhere that I regularly use. I still go at times for a quick emergency run (oops, I forgot coffee again or something). They always seem so garish and crowded.

                                                                              1. We're shopping at a Trader Joe's right across the (US) border about twice a month.

                                                                                Buy from Costco sporadically but often constrained by the quantities which we don't need (and can't store).

                                                                                Still shop at supermarkets, but never Safeway or many of the other chains.

                                                                                1. I don't know what Sprouts is, but the combination of Trader Joe's and Costco doesn't provide a wide enough selection of ingredients (or in some cases, reasonable sizes) for me to only shop there.

                                                                                  Right now, I do about 70% of my shopping at the local traditional market (cheap, good, but only open in the mornings). Once a month to the local grocery store for stuff I can't get at the market - cheese, cream, some packaged and canned goods, coffee creamers, baking supplies, herbal tea. About once every two or three months to Costco for coffee beans, olive oil, canned tomatoes, cheese, tortillas, non sweet sausages, Scotch, breakfast cereal and jumbo packs of beef shanks. Random intervals to high end grocery stores (olives, pickles, some spices, cornmeal, couscous, imported condiments, Christmas dinner supplies), the Indian food store, (dried legumes, spices) and the baking supply store (nuts, dried fruit, baking chocolate).

                                                                                  1. Costco:
                                                                                    Where I live Costco is out of the way.I had membership.I only ended up buying a few items. Didn't really see the savings for one.
                                                                                    Trader Joes:
                                                                                    Close to where I live.I can buy some items to stick in the freezer for part of a quick go to meal. Bad, is the vegtables and meat,the crazy paking lot, people staring at items like zombies with those narrow isles.
                                                                                    Good: I also can grab a bottle of wine. Great checkers.
                                                                                    Local Supermarkets:
                                                                                    Couple of them I avoid because of checkout and produce.That narrows it to two.Great produce,fish.and meats,parking,and checkout.
                                                                                    So the answer is no.

                                                                                    1. similar thread on my local board:


                                                                                      i have basically given up on trader joe's. their cheese sucks, almonds are cheaper at costco and i no longer buy crackers or bread. i never bought any of their pre-made frozen stuff. i do stock up on frozen artichoke hearts from tj's because i never see them anyplace else.

                                                                                      we visit costco once or twice per month, but milk and cream at a local organic dairy farm. i have access to great butchers and lots of asian markets for other stuff.

                                                                                      i hit a regular grocery store a few times per month.

                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        Their cheese sucks? Whoa. Thems are fightin' words.....

                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                          their goat cheese and brie can be "ok", but other than that? meh. i can get dubliner and kerrygold elsewhere. we also have amazing cheese shops here.

                                                                                          the b/f went the other day and picked up some tj's muenster. i could barely get it to melt in his scrambled eggs. it all seems like very mediocre mass-produced junk.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I see.

                                                                                            Well, looks like I'm a real sucker for mediocre mass-produced junk cheese then.

                                                                                            I genuinely enjoyed their recent cheddar trio, and am a *huge* fan of their imported buffalo mozzarella. I also really dig the chèvre log with garlic & herbs, the triple cream Canadian brie, the red Leicester, and a bunch of others I can't remember right now.

                                                                                            More importantly, the prices for *all* cheeses are also much better than Wegmans.

                                                                                            We have a cheese "shoppe" in town as well, but I can't bring myself to give money to the obnoxious, arrogant staff.

                                                                                            Bummer, really. Thank goodness, though, for TJ's.

                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                              lingua, have you tried the haloumi at TJ's? if it's available in your TJ's that is.

                                                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                I have not. I'm not a huge haloumi fan -- just not crazy about a grilled or baked slab of cheese :-)

                                                                                                But I should check if they have kasseri or kefalotiri, or mizithra....

                                                                                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              Maybe it is just the cheese your local store stocks.

                                                                                              Mine is nowhere near mass produced junk! It is really fabulous with a huge selection at half the price of my local " fromage" shop. Same cheese, half price, not bad.

                                                                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                i can count at least 6 locations where i have shopped. the cheese is mediocre at best. it is cheaper than some supermarket cheeses, but no better in flavor or texture.

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  Oh, that is a shame.
                                                                                                  Mine has beautiful bleu imports, fabulous artisan goat cheeses, stiltons, racelette, and a variety of bries. All my favorites. No way a grocery store can compare in variety and price. You must be on the east coast, maybe not as good of a selection?

                                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                    yes. boston-area. the canadian triple-cream brie mentioned by somebody else is no better than supermarket brie, imho. they sell generic vermont goat cheese. the cheddars and aged goudas are totally meh.

                                                                                                    honestly, i've run the gamut through the stores and their cheeses and give up. am not somebody throwing down $20 pp on cheese elsewhere, but can get much better stuff at italian markets and smaller stores.

                                                                                                    plenty of smallish cheesemakers in mass and vermont and we are totes close to europe so not sure why this segment is so piss-poor at local tj's?

                                                                                                    i think tj's does a great job with its prepared foods, none of which i ever want to buy. almonds and avocados are cheaper at costco and i can't buy full-fat fage at tj's anymore.

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      Clearly a local issue. Glad I don't have it.

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        There is a reason I still go to my overpriced clueless supermarket - full fat Fage, which has disappeared from every other place I used to buy it.

                                                                                                        Most perishables at Costco are packaged in too large lots for me; sometimes I bring a friend and we split things. I still go regularly for gas and Mexican coke and the inevitable impulse buys (Fine Cooking magazine which, at 30% off, is cheaper than subscription price).

                                                                                                        Oh, and also a stop at Aldi, whose house brand crackers and chips I prefer to their brand name counterparts.

                                                                                                        TJs just opened 5 minutes away. I love their bagged Movie Theater popcorn and their seasonal bacon-wrapped frozen scallops, along with their cheap non-ultrapasteurized cream and 1/2 &1/2.

                                                                                                        1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                                                          oohh, i stock up at my regular grocer on the full-fat fage, buying 3-4 big tubs at a time and that's the only place i can ever find it.

                                                                                                          am waiting for an aldi to open around here.

                                                                                                      2. re: sedimental

                                                                                                        in da burgh here, and i love their selection.

                                                                                                2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  They have some fine cheeses, but their basic house brand cheddars, to my taste, are waxy and flavorless, equivalent to the cheap store-brand stuff at Star Market or the like.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                    I wouldn't know. I haven't bought their house brand cheddars.

                                                                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                        on that same trip, b/f had also purchased a block of tj's jack cheese. unopened, it had started to go moldy within a week of bringing it home.

                                                                                              2. the local stupidmarkets by us have ok produce, but at two to three times the cost of the fruit and vegetable market down the road.

                                                                                                clueless, indifferent employees at the megamart is the problem here. rude only if pressed to answer.

                                                                                                Costco has plenty, but if we shop around, Costco isn't always a deal on many things. Buyer beware.

                                                                                                Trader Joe's. We don't do much frozen prepared foods, so it's not a regular stop. There are few items that might interest us, like cinnamon swirl bread once or twice a year, cause Pepperidge Farms brand (with raisins) is the only other available anywhere locally.

                                                                                                The local ethnic markets get a good chunk of our shopping along with the fruit and vegetable market for fresh produce.

                                                                                                Meat from a butcher shop and fresh fish from a fresh fish market.

                                                                                                1. I made the switch a couple years ago and we've never looked back. We shop at Sprouts, TJs, Costco, and the local Hispanic/middle eastern markets. I get my "conventional" food items from Target -- things like peanut butter, Cheez-its for the kids, etc.

                                                                                                  I just went to my supermarket last week after about 6-7 weeks and was surprised because they rearranged the whole place. I had no idea because I never go there.

                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                    "..... for the kids"

                                                                                                    That's what we all ....... claim ;-) ;-)

                                                                                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                                      My " kids" are married and I still say Cheetos are for them......I just "taste" them to be sure they are not stale :)

                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                        Me too. The sacrifices we do to keep our kids safe [sigh] :-)

                                                                                                      2. re: LotusRapper

                                                                                                        The Cheez-Its are really for the kids. The Lay's French Onion Dip and the Ruffles are all mine. ;)

                                                                                                    2. OK, so I didn't read every single reply. We have Costco here but no Trader Joe. I wish we did. I probably split my shopping between Costco and two of the local markets pretty evenly. There is no way I can eat 12 pounds of bananas before they go black. And while I like rice and I like potatoes, most of the time I can't use those up in any reasonable stretch of time. For most canned goods and most meats, it's costco. Of course some things Costco doesn't sell. So, like i said, about half half.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                        12 lbs of bananas? I don't think I've ever seen that at Costco. And our Costco has 5lb and 10lb bags of potatoes, just like supermarket sizes. They do have large-ish containers of raspberries in the summer, but not so large that I can't finish one on the drive home.

                                                                                                      2. I love Trader Joe's and Costco but I love my local Shop Rite. I am not a big fan of Shop rite in general but this shop rite location I go to is pretty unique. Lots of cuts of meat and items I normally don't see in other supermarkets. Prices are amazing and they always have very good store specials.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Monica

                                                                                                          I miss Shop Rite. If I still lived up on Jersey it would be part of my regular rotation. The supermarkets here pale in comparison, which is why I rely more on Costco, TJs, Whole Foods, and Fresh Market.

                                                                                                        2. A few years ago, the large chains in our area (Ralph's, Von's, Albertson's) had a strike/lockout which lasted a couple of weeks. Between TJs, Costco and a wonderful weekly Farmer's Market, I completely got out of the habit of shopping the supers. I'll add that we're lucky in Southern California, there's good fresh produce available year-round, but the only time I use a supermarket now is if we need some item immediately, or for a few cleaning supplies that the other places don't carry.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: judybird

                                                                                                            Me too.

                                                                                                            When I occasionally go into a Ralphs I always give them my phone # because I fantasize about some bean counter going "Oh look, she's not dead. She's *choosing* not to shop here anymore."

                                                                                                            I've never seen anything as vicious and underhanded as they were with their employees in the big grocery chain strike. And I thought if they'll cheat the employees they depend on and defraud the government, what are they doing to their customers? And, voila! After that came the annual stories about Ralph's (Kroger's) repackaging outdated meats and jiggering scales to short weights.

                                                                                                            I feel so much better shopping at Costco where employees are treated well. And for high volume big box stores I genuinely believe you can feel the goodwill in their staff.

                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                              My mom in SoCal does similar now that it's just her and my dad at home. Costco for bulk items of quality, then the local H-Mart or farmers market for the stuff they don't sell at Costco.

                                                                                                              She hates going to normal supermarkets now because not only were they awful to their employees during the strike, but they have all sorts of ridiculous rules on the sale ads they put on weekly and she's just tired of following the fine print: no double coupons, have to buy 10 to get that price, etc.

                                                                                                          2. I used to shop in this order. Farmers markets, TJ's, Costco, and Whole Foods. I have to go to WF bc my son has special dietary needs and some brands are not carried by TJ's or Costco. But I was happy and everything worked. Now that I have moved away from TJ's I have included Sprouts and King Soopers (Krogers) in TJ's place. Let me tell you it's definitely sub par. I was just back in LA and spend about a 1/3 less at TJ's than at Krogers. For instance, Coffee filters atr 1.99 at TJ's. EXACT same thing at Krogers for 5.99. Not just a .50 difference but a whole $4 difference. Some things aren't as bad but yes, you're going up the right alley by eliminating your local super. I'm also missing out on year round farmers markets but i now have farm stands. I can drive to a farm stand in 15 min and the produce is excellent.

                                                                                                            1. I go to Costco and TJ's much more frequently than my local supermarkets.

                                                                                                              Even being a household of one I still find enough that works for me at Costco to make it worthwhile: Campari tomatoes, coffee beans, half and half, sour cream, rotissary chicken, beer, wine, some meats and fish if the size is right - same with cheese, berries in the summer, spinach, paper and cleaning goods, their gas is the lowest price in my area. Unfortunately my state doesn't allow sale of liquor except state run ABC stores...

                                                                                                              TJ's gets my dollar when I can only use a smaller quantity of nuts, cheese, greens than what Costco has. I like the bags of assorted fingerling potatoes too. Wine, cheese, crackers, frozen vegetables (roasted corn and the eggplant/zucchini blend are favorites), masala patties, greeting cards, canned beans, tuna, nuke-em bags of brown rice...I don't buy much meat there. I haven't been thrilled with their grab n go or marinated products. Oh - flowers and fresh herb varieties that I can't get at my go-to places for vegetables.

                                                                                                              Most of my usual vegetable shopping is at a nearby Hispanic market or a wonderful Asian (mainly Chinese but their array covers a little bit from many other parts of Asia).
                                                                                                              The selection and price is great and the turnover is high. The Asian market sells packs of 3 chicken carcasses with necks for $2.50. That and a pack of chicken feet (21 for $2.25) and I fantastic stock for quite some time!

                                                                                                              I get my bread from a deli and most of my seafood from the fish shop. I wish I could say I frequent the farmers market, but my schedule seldom messes well with theirs.

                                                                                                              I really only venture into a regular Supermarket every couple of months...

                                                                                                              1. Don't belong to Costco, don't plan to join. Never heard of Sprouts. Trader Joe's has a few nice things (the olive oil, for example) but most of it is prepared foods and aside from the famous green chile cheese tamales which I do like, nothing much I really crave. Queens is a food shopper's paradise, so I very rarely buy anything from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. A gazillion (a technical shopping term, you understand) little ethnic markets, fishmongers, butchers, bakers, salumerias, produce markets,etc.
                                                                                                                My favorite regular supermarket is Trade Fair and when they had the strike there last year, that did put a cramp in our shopping style, especially since Trade Fair is open 24 hours and Mr Rat works nights - the other 24 hour supermarkets, like Food Emporium, are more expensive, don't have the broad selection of ethnic products, and aren't in the neighborhood.

                                                                                                                21 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                  if you live in Queens you really don't need TJ's or Costco. The same with living in Berkeley, CA. I hardly went to any of those stores bc of other markets that were far superior. In fact, I prefered a store called the Berkeley Bowl over WF.

                                                                                                                  1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                    Yes,. but you pay for it.

                                                                                                                    I can also shop at many high end supermarkets here ( non WF). If I want to pay (sometimes double) the price for the same item I can get somewhere else.

                                                                                                                    Of course, sometimes I don't mind doing that, but not on a regular basis, that would just be silly.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                      Completely agree. Here in So CA farmers markets are geared for the rich, if you're a family on a budget farmers markets are almost always out of reach.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                        The only thing at the NYC farmers' markets that I think is consistently expensive is meat. Other things are often cheap even by supermarket standards - organic wine and hard cider, cheese, vegetables mostly, baked goods, honey, live plants.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                          i don't know. I was visiting my mom in NY and recall going to the Union Sq farmers market and got charged $14 for a bag of mixed greens. This was also about 10 yrs ago. It was about a 1lb or less than a lb. Coming from CA that was a crazy price. LA has the the cheapest farmers markets. here in Boulder the prices are very high but the quality of the produce is a lot fresher. Obviously more limited but overall I find better quality stuff here.

                                                                                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                            14 dollars - now really it is hard to know if that was a high price without knowing how big the bag was. In general though food prices are lower in California, always have been. It was quite shocking to me when I moved to NYC from CA in 1981. I was appalled to shop at C-Town in the Bronx in the old hood days of C-Town back when all their produce was wrapped in plastic on styrofoam trays. Much has changed, thank god, but I believe CA is still cheaper for food than NY. Although both California and NY are largely agricultural states, apparently a higher percentage of CA's produce is shipped within the state.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                              California and New York aren't remotely comparable as far as agricultural production. CA is the top agricultural state, with over 13% of the US total (twice as much as the number 2 state). NY is 28th, with about 1%. Produce is not a major crop in NY.

                                                                                                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                                                                What bothers me is that supposedly several middlemen are eliminated at the farmers market, meaning the farmers that grow the produce are actually selling their products. So why are the prices 3x-4x+ higher than a frigg'n super market? And no 'it's organic' crap, I can get a lot of organic produce at Costco for less than the regular super market stuff.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                  My costco doesn't seem to carry any organic produces....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                                    Monica, my former Costco in LA carried no organic produce or anything organic. Oh, I once found blueberries. But My new Costco in Colorado carries a bunch of organic products. Meat, veggies, coffee. It was a welcoming surprise.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                      I only go to Costco maybe one a month..if they start carrying organic products, I will probably visit a lot more often.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Monica

                                                                                                                                      Serioiusly? My Costco just began stocking an entire floor area for organic apples, that's in addition to produce and various other veggies, meats. Guess I'm lucky!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                        where are you located? with everything retail, its probably based on sell thrus and demographics.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                          I think so...i guess nobody in my area wants organic apples and celery. This is why I go to Trader Joe's far more often.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                            So CA. We have a great selection of produce, meats even several organic dairy products.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                        "What bothers me is that supposedly several middlemen are eliminated at the farmers market, meaning the farmers that grow the produce are actually selling their products. So why are the prices 3x-4x+ higher than a frigg'n super market?"

                                                                                                                                        Yeah! How dare those farmers actually make money off their labors! Those bastards!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                          I have no problem with a capital markets, free enterprise and making a reasonable profit. Just don't gouge me.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                      California also has 12% of the US population, so of course a lot of food is consumed in state. As for prices, it varies a lot within states: I expect Manhattan has high prices (hence the $14 for a bag of greens). It always amuses me when I shop in the Buffalo area to see produce from California that's actually cheaper than in my (admittedly high-priced) Silicon Valley town.

                                                                                                                                      My local farmers' market varies from expensive to extremely cheap, depending on vendor, time of year, appearance of produce, etc.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                                                                        "$14 for a bag of greens ......."

                                                                                                                                        Sooooooo ........ like shopping at Whole Foods, then ;-)

                                                                                                                                    4. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                      Yes! I was there yesterday and bought one apple and one banana for $3.00. At home in NJ, I would have paid $1.00.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                    "Here in So CA farmers markets are geared for the rich, if you're a family on a budget farmers markets are almost always out of reach."

                                                                                                                                    Keep in mind those are actual *farmers* who are trying to make a living and feed their families.

                                                                                                                                    They aren't the agribusinesses that have production large enough to do business with markets and chains. And their whole profit structure is different.

                                                                                                                            2. I like my local store... it's only been open a bit over a year and it's big and has great selection for the most part. It's King Soopers, which is owned by Kroger. I used to go to Sprouts too when I worked near one, but now the closest one is about 20-25 minutes away.... not worth it to me just to buy a few items. Same story for Costco... it's about a half hour drive, so I only go every few months to stock up on stuff like K-cups, or beef.

                                                                                                                              No Trader Joe's here at all. They're opening some in Denver in Feb, but it'll be about a 45-60 minute drive from my house, so it'll be an only every once in awhile trip for specific items that I like buying there and have missed having since living in Colorado.

                                                                                                                              1. I love that Costco is basically a carbon copy of Sams Club with the exception that they pay their employees much better wages. I hope more businesses follow suit. Same goes for Trader Joe's to some extent as well.

                                                                                                                                I've never found myself really saving much money at warehouse clubs like Sams or Costco though. There was an article I read a while back where they took the same shopping list and got it at a club vs. a regular store, and when they did all the math, ounce for ounce, quantity for quantity, there were practically no real savings in total.

                                                                                                                                Trader Joe's has good prices on some items, but they over charge for others, so you need to be careful what you get there or your overall grocery bill can still come out more than what you would pay at a traditional grocery store.

                                                                                                                                I generally only hit up Costco and TJ for specific items that I know I am getting for a good price.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                  OTOH, I recently read about a study that found Costco and Sams to be 30% cheaper, on average, than grocery store chains.

                                                                                                                                  Re: Trader Joe's, can you define "over charge" and point out which items you have found that fall in that category?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                    Not everything at Costco is a good deal but the good deals are very good deals. The same holds true for nearly every store.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                      Organic whole milk is not a good deal at all.
                                                                                                                                      also a lot of vegetables can be purchased at similar or cheaper at local Asian markets.

                                                                                                                                  2. There is a TJ not too far away we can walk to but we rarely go. Never been in a Costco. Almost never go to a grocery store anymore. Almost all of our grocery shopping is done with the magic of the internet. Fresh Direct supplies 90% of our needs. Works for a lot of people in NYC. Not an option for most since the delivery area for on line groceries is limited. But we love it. Never having to step in a grocery store is great. Still have to hit the farmers' markets and specialty stores for the not usual items.

                                                                                                                                    1. I am a big "Giant" fan. They are in the Philthadelphia region. They have a good produce section and plenty of organics storewide. And recently "Wegman's" was a revelation. A massive upscale supermarket. But I do love Trader Joe's for their tree nuts and flowers, and the Whole Foods for the nice dairy and meat sections. As for Costco, Sam's club and the like... there is no need for a forklift load of frozen pizza slices or an industrial sized drum of whatever that glowing condiment is. I find it unjustifiable to sit on my bottom watching TV, then feeding the innocent humans I care the most for, all that trash food. And for nothing less than selfishness.

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                        i don't understand your last 2 sentences. What is the connection between shopping at Sams or Costco and "sit(ting) on my bottom watching tv, then feeding innocent humans I care the most about, all that trash food."? Costco and Sams shoppers are lazy? Hate their families? Sams and Costco don't sell healthy food? How is shopping at those stores selfish? Please enlighten.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                          I'm glad you don't feed your family flour, or sugar, or milk, or any of the other basics i buy from costco...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                            I shop at Costco for paper goods, garbage bags, coffee, sometimes organic meat, sometimes organic fruit and select cheese like reggiano if I can find it. I don't step in my big box store for much unless it's late at night and I need something in a pinch. I try to not just go to my farmers market but go directly to the farm. I guess my point is that I don't buy trash food but I do shop at Costco. you can buy trash food anywhere, even at whole foods. that's up to you.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                              Places like Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's et al were originally started as wholesale stores, and only open to business owners, remember that? The fact that they opened their doors to anyone who wanted to pay for the membership was actually a very shrewd move on their parts. But my point is, they existed for those mom & pop stores & restaurants (speaking of food only here) to buy their large trays of gums, candies, 50 lb sacks of rice, beans & flour & sugar at a decent price than they would get at a local supermarket. There is nothing wrong with the fact that people enjoy shopping there now to get a perceived deal on buying in bulk or to feed their large families.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, these statements are really pretty silly. I buy certain fruits and vegetables at Costco, paper towels, toilet paper, cereal and a handful of other items on a regular basis. I have never bought a "forklift load of frozen pizza". Actually, the frozen pizza I buy is from Trader Joe's.

                                                                                                                                                And as for me having the chance to "sit on my bottom watching TV, then feeding the innocent humans I care the most for, all that trash food", not a chance because I am too busy working full time, managing a household and cooking 5 nights a week, being PTA treasurer at my kids school, Girl Scout troop leader and neighborhood association president, so I'm not sure where the selfishness part would come into play.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: TheMikeLove

                                                                                                                                                  Processed foods are available anywhere. Just because someone shops at a place which sells the stuff doesn't mean that's what's in their cart.

                                                                                                                                                  If meat, cheese, dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables are trash foods then I guess I'm just selfish...

                                                                                                                                                2. I recently joined Costco and I absolutely love it. I was frustrated that no matter how much I pared down my grocery list, I was still spending a very large amount at Stop and Shop, which is the most convenient supermarket to me (other than Shop Rite, which I hate). My overall food bill is on the decline for the first time in ages.

                                                                                                                                                  I now shop weekly at Stop and Shop for a handful of items not available at Costco (or only available at Costco in quantities too large for my household of 2) such as bananas/other fruit when it's not in season at our farmers' market, lemons, half and half, natural peanut butter, Polaner preserves, and whole wheat pasta. Also I may fill in the gaps between Costco trips with Stop and Shop.

                                                                                                                                                  Every three to four weeks I do a big trip to Costco. Their 2 packs of bread are less than half the cost of one package at Stop and Shop. The nuts are a great deal (though I had to buy special airtight containers for them), Laughing Cow cheese, Kirkland brand yogurt (again 2 for less than half the cost of 1 at Stop and Shop), all my standard cheeses (parmigana, half the cost of S&S, mozzarella, 1/4 the price of S&S, cheddar, and feta... I cut and portion the mozzy, cheddar, and feta, and then freeze them), my husband's organic milk when it's not on sale at S&S, the list goes on and on. I never knew how much a household of only two people could benefit from shopping at Costco. Like other posters say, certain things are not a better deal than regular supermarkets but you just have to be a smart shopper and compare prices.

                                                                                                                                                  Every week (in season) I buy all my veggies at our farmers' market (S&S from about Dec-May). I buy all our meat and eggs at our farmers' market.

                                                                                                                                                  Now and then I will do a Whole Foods or Fairway run for specialty items such as olives, cheese, charcuterie, other items for entertainment, baking items, etc. I am not a fan of TJ's except for their packaged foods, which I use as gifts near Christmastime.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I do the same as you do, and have for years. Costco, Trader Joe's & Sprouts are where I shop. Since moving to the "sticks" here in North Texas, the local supermarket is horrible. The selection is awful and the veggies/produce is half rotten.

                                                                                                                                                    For those of you who aren't familiar with Sprouts, imagine a scaled down version of Whole Foods without the high prices. They carry vitamins, bulk foods, fresh meat, seafood & poultry at excellent prices, and a great selection of produce at great prices. A lot of their stuff is organic.

                                                                                                                                                    Sprouts fans, did I miss anything?

                                                                                                                                                    1. The second week we did a shopping run to Costco I ended up with more food for half the price vs. the regional grocery store chain. The grocery list didn't change.

                                                                                                                                                      I buy a really limited amount of processed foods so most of our food expense is fresh veggies/fruit, dairy, meat, and things like rice, beans etc. The veggies from the grocery store vs. Costco are mostly the same as both are mass produced. Costco's quality is much better and way cheaper.

                                                                                                                                                      In the summer we get most of our veggies from the farmers market or our garden.

                                                                                                                                                      The local grocery chain (Hyvee) is way overpriced and I end up leaving there hating humanity just about every time I shop. The stores are overcrowded, overpriced, understaffed and are just a general frustrating experience.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I prefer to ride the horse in the direction it's going. That means I shop at a wide variety of stores, based on what they do well. Currently I go to Trader Joe's, Fry's, Costco, Albertson's, Sprouts, and Safeway. Also I go to local Asian and international food markets pretty regularly. I guess i"m a grocery sto ho

                                                                                                                                                        1. I try to avoid the GMO's so I eat mostly Organic, or private label Trader Joes or 365 products because they commit to the non-gmo. My first stop is Trader Joe's for cheaper Organic produces, then Whole Foods, and then my local supermarket when they have a sale on non-gmo or organic products