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Do TJ's differ drastically in different regions?

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After living in LA for 15 yrs (23 yrs in CA) we moved our family to Colorado. The store frequented the most in CA was Trader Joes and of course when we moved here TJ's didn't exist. I never thought I'd be so homesick for a store!

But tomorrow, a new TJ's is opening!! Hurray! I feel like an old friend is coming over.

So here I am so excited and making my list (praying it won't be a mad house tomorrow) and dawned on me that they may not carry some of my trusted items. I remember going to the TJ's in Scarsdale, NY right near my moms and I recall being disappointed. Do the regions vary greatly? has anyone experienced this??

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  1. Well, there are some product categories that are sourced regionally, including dairy, fresh bakery (especially bread), produce, and some fresh prepared foods (like salads). So milk, for instance, comes from different dairies, depending on where you are, and "artisan" bread will vary as it comes from different bakeries. For other items, I think it can vary somewhat, depending on availability, and also probably what sells locally.

    1. From reading comments on here, it appears the the quality of produce varies a great deal from region to region, and if also appears that the wine selection varies as well.

      9 Replies
      1. re: carolinadawg

        well, bc of a colorado law each chain can only have one wine shop that is separate from the store. So my local whole foods is the only one in the entire state that has a wine shop adjacent to it. I think it's silly law but my husband thinks it's to protect the small craft breweries. I still think it's somewhat silly. why not expand it to counties? so that said, the only wine shop that TJ's will have in the entire state, yes the entire state is in Denver. I'm only about 30 min away and go often but clearly won't be weekly. heck, with the wine. I'm more excited for my everyday groceries or many of them to be back in rotation.

        yes, and i did expect bread and dairy to be local or from closer sources.

        1. re: trolley

          That's too bad. TJ's is the best place ever to get wine. It's probably the top reason I shop there.

          1. re: carolinadawg

            i know :( me too or it was for me too. well, I actually go to Denver for Asian groceries so a stop at the wine shop is definitely in the future!

          2. re: trolley

            Same lame laws in nyc, one trader joes wine shop for the whole of manhattan...aka lines out the door and around the block the day before big snow storms! :)

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              Not just NYC. It's one TJ's wine shop for the entire state of NY. We don't have wine in our Albany TJ's.

              1. re: AmyH

                At least you have beer! Having recently moved west of Boston where the beer and wine licenses are tied together.

                1. re: Berheenia

                  True! Here it seems that wine and liquor are tied together. At least they can be sold in the same (non-grocery) stores, but beer is sold in separate stores.

            2. re: trolley

              that is a silly law, but one I'm used to elsewhere.

              the dry and frozen goods seem to be consistent.

              1. re: trolley

                FYI- that Colorado law was in place WAY before there were craft breweries

            3. Yes, they differ.

              I used to be a Trader Joe's pack mules for my folks, carrying pounds of granola and jellies every year from California to Ohio. Then a TJ's opened near them and I thought "Huzzah"

              And yes - but no.

              They carried many identical items - basically all the shelf stable stuff. But the breads, dairy products, meats, etc - different. I called the headquarters and was told that they had regional buyers and that yes, some things would be different.

              Add in the state by state liquor laws and you will get a bit of a wiggle.

              But it's still an awfully nice chain : )

              1. I found that trader joes in CA had most of the same products as the one in nyc- may be different suppliers for fresh produce and dairy etc but still had same assortment of greek yogurts, dips, hummus, frozen foods, etc.... But the CA produce was 100xs better than nyc's ever is!
                Good luck!

                5 Replies
                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  I went! It was crazy but all the same things are there. Lines took forever but people were generally happy. I never got too much produce at TJ's so it wasn't too much of a concern. i went back the next morning and it was still crowded but the lines were much better. I'm so happy to have TJ's back in the rotation.

                  1. re: trolley

                    How exciting for you! I just end up multitasking in line on my iphone.... And since in nyc's store the line goes by the refridgerated section i just shop in line too! Haha...

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      thanks Ttrockwood. glad you understand my excitement! i moved here and i panicked bc they didn't have a TJ's.

                  2. re: Ttrockwood

                    Maybe not the apples

                    1. re: BuildingMyBento

                      When i'm on the west coast i never buy the apples!!! I hit the berries first.....:)

                  3. I found that the TJ's in CA had the same products as the ones in Chicago. I didn't buy produce at either one because in CA I had roadside stands and Chicago the fruit markets. I'm now in Colorado and am excited to check out the stores here to see if they have my old favorites (haven't been near a TJ's in 2 years). I will probably try the location with the wine to see if they have my favorite Pinot that I used to get at TJ's in Chicago. None of the new locations are close to me at all so I'll have to make a special trip.

                    1. No I've noticed they suck equally wherever you travel.

                      (Sorry couldn't resist, not a TJ's fan here)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        couldn't suck harder than my Krogers. TJ's is not perfect but if i'm going to buy rotting organic cherry tomatoes from Mexico, I'd rather pay $3.99 than the $4.99. Or pay $10 for my castile soap rather than $16 from Target.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          I heard they have great manscaping supplies! ;-)

                        2. In CT you can't buy wine at a grocery store (but you can buy beer) so I've never had the joy of trying the $2 buck chuck.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: masha bousha

                            you're not missing out. some tend to disagree.

                            1. re: masha bousha

                              And in Wisconsin it is not $2 buck chuck, but $3 buck chuck (at least when I visited one in Madison 3 or so years ago). "Joy" is not the word I'd use for it. Maybe "passable" given the price. That TJs did seem to have the same sort of snacks and packaged foods as the TJs in California.

                              1. re: MagicMarkR

                                I think it's now 3 buck chuck for everyone. It's nothing to write home about. I noticed at some "free" events they like to serve 3 Buck Chuck. I went to a community art opening and they were serving the chuck. It goes a long way for your money and yes, it's passable but not something worth traveling for.

                              2. re: masha bousha

                                2 Buck Chuck is dreadful, imo, but some of TJ's other wines are outstanding bargains.

                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                  The 2-3 Buck Chuck is a moving target. Some varieties in some years represent a pretty good value, while other varieties and years are truly dreadful. I just call it WineChuck Bingo.

                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                    I buy many other excellent wines at trader joes ($6 lambrusco!!) but the $3buckmakesmewanna chuck.

                                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                                      I have had very good luck at TJs in San Francisco. Great whites can be had for around $5, my favorite being Tres Pinos which is a blend of Chard, Sauv Blanc, Gewurtz and Riesling, I think I recall. Look carefully and you can find some great things if you go up to about $8. After trying these, anyone would give up Chuck.

                                2. I'm sure it must be up to each store's manager to decide which TJ products to stock and which not, unless the store has so much floor and shelf space that he/she doesn't have to be selective. Products are often mentioned in the Yea/Nay thread that I've never seen in my local store.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: John Francis

                                    Each region has access to different products. Each Section Order Writer in each store has the ability to select items from their region's Order Guide. There are many agreements which can differ from state to state. As far as wine goes, the availability of certain wines depends on quantity. In N.CA we are close to many wineries and therefore get things folks on the East Coast won't get and vice versa. BTW, the "Chuck-it-in-the-bucket" has been $2.71 including tax since Jan 2013 in CA. It's gross. No good bulk wine goes into it any more. For $2.99 the private label from Chile: Vinas Chilenas is infinitely better.

                                    1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                      The Vinas Chilenas is indeed way better than Chuck.

                                      A fab option when your taste level is decent but your cash level, not.

                                      1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                        The wine deals that Northern California gets don't even make it to Southern California sometimes let alone the East Coast. :(

                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                          OT but the Costco in Novato, CA has some very nice wines! I have a winemaker friend who frequents that Costco and the one in Rohnert Park and I'm jealous! The wine selection at TJ's in NorCal is much better than anywhere else as well.

                                    2. The one that I visited in Las Vegas looked just the same as the ones we have here in Jersey.

                                      1. my experience is that produce, bread and alcohol vary by region. perhaps cheese. everything else more or less stays consistent.