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Nov 14, 2013 09:00 AM

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.

                                            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.