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Is it worth driving 30 miles to get to Trader Joes?

Seriously? They just opened their second South Florida store and it's nearly 40 miles from us (the first is down in Miami...) Thinking of planning a shopping trip to go to Trader Joes and Whole Foods... (the closest Whole Foods to us is in West Palm. I didn't buy much at WF even when it was only a few miles from us, but I MUST have their store-brand natural shampoo and conditioner.)

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  1. I don't drive 40 miles but I do go out of my way every week or so to shop at TJ's and stock up on some things that aren't readily available in regular supermarkets. Some examples:

    Tri-tip roast, vacuum sealed
    Great frozen seafood assortment at reasonable prices
    Flash frozen asparagus spears better than fresh
    Frozen pearl onions
    Real (not processed) sliced turkey breast
    3 buck chuck wine (the 2 buck days are long gone)

    Prices for fresh produce are much better than those at local supermarkets and TJ's carries quite a few hard-to-find items like fresh shelled peas and haricots jaune.

    1. I have TJ and Whole Food right across the street from each other, also 30 miles away. Luckily both of our doctors are within 5 or 10 minutes of there so that's always our reward for a medical visit. Just to go there itself, not so likely.

      1. If there are things you already know you love/must have from TJs then yes, totally worth it. However, if you're going to see/try stuff I'd hope to be able to make that a stop on some other trip.

        1. I would drive that distance maybe once a month because TJ has so many unique products and I would stock up. Take something in the car to keep your frozen stuff frozen on that 30-mile trip home as nobody else comes close to TJ for frozen prepared items, frozen vegetables, frozen berries, frozen croissants, frozen everything. And I think they are the only folks still selling a half-gallon of ice cream that is actually a half-gallon. BTW a lot of people seem to think that WF and TJ are the same but they are 'way not--- WholePaycheck is a LOT more expensive than TJ and lacks TJ's creativity in its offerings. You will soon develop your own subjective list of TJ unique items you don't want to do without. Let me start you off by suggesting Truffle Brownie Mix, frozen broccoli flowerets, frozen pearl onions, Sweet Chili Sauce, Garlic Hummos, frozen croissants, and Liebfraumilch (if your Florida TJ will carry wine---wine is such a given at Illinois TJs that I was shocked to learn that Maryland TJs don't carry it).

          1. I can WALK to both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and still don't go to either that often (I do like both but still don't think they're all that special) so the thought of driving 30 or 40 miles to shop at one is something I can't fathom.

            1. Aren't they building a TJ in West Palm Beach?

              If you have never been to a Trader Joe's I would say yes it's worth it. Unless you are battling traffic, 30 miles isn't that far.

              2 Replies
              1. re: viperlush

                Wellington IS West Palm, or near enough... they're building one in Boca Raton which would have been our 'closest store' but we moved to Stuart which is way north. Fortunately, most of that distance is on the highway and because it's north of West Palm it's not a high-traffic area so travel is a lot faster than it used to be (it's a lot quicker to drive DOWN to West Palm than it used to be to drive UP there from Fort Lauderdale) so I'm finding that travel I used to think of as 'too far' is a lot more doable.

                1. re: Kajikit

                  They are also building one in Palm Beach Gardens.

              2. I drive 15 miles each way to Trader Joes twice each month and am happy to do so. If it were 30 miles, I might change to every three weeks.They have many items my wife and I love that are not available elsewhere (or at comparable prices). I do NOT ever shop Whole Paycheck.

                1. I have a WF within walking distance but I rarely go there. I do the bulk of our shopping at Sprouts, which is a 5 minute drive, or TJs, which I have 2 of within a 7-8 minute drive. If I didn't have a TJ near me, I'd drive out about 1-2x/month to pick up my groceries. Their packaged nuts and trail mix, granola cereals, hummus, egg white salad, frozen indian entrees and other stuff make it worth it for us.

                  1. only if you have a big freezer!

                    1. they do have an interesting assortment,that while you may find similar elsewhere-you probably would not find it all in one place and for the most part prices are fair. Can do very well with frozen items- desserts, croissants and even prepared foods,you may not want to load up for that distance,unless a cooler is used. Would recommend their jams as a very good deal. It is definitely a fun place to explore,so i would recommend it as a destination,if you are willing to explore, for the most part their buyers do a good job and most items are at least good/very good

                      1. It would be worth it to me because there are so many things we buy there regularly: coconut oil, California olive oil, nuts and dried fruit, grass fed ground beef, almond meal, the best price locally on Kerrygold, the best heavy cream locally, decent cheap wine, etc.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                          If you have a Costco member, you can get a 3 pack of Kerrygold there for $6.99. I used to buy mine at TJs until Costco started carrying it. :)

                          1. re: boogiebaby

                            We're not Costco members, it wasn't worth it for us.

                            1. re: boogiebaby

                              Isn't it seasonal? I see it around the holiday season, but I don't see it the rest of the year.

                              1. re: Deanna H

                                I've been buying it regularly for the last 7-8 months. Just bought some more last weekend too.

                              2. re: boogiebaby

                                Costco (Long Island) carries only the salted Kerrygold and it's shelved in the cheese case.

                                1. re: boogiebaby

                                  But Costco only carries the salted. I so wish they would start carrying the unsalted as well.

                              3. I laughed when I saw this title since I just today drove to the new TJs in Tampa, about 50 miles away. This is my second trip since they opened in March. I have my favorites from when I lived within walking distance of a TJs, so it's worth it to me to stock up--and try their new stuff! too.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    Not as crazy as it was in March, but still chock-a-block. I lucked out and pulled right into the first spot, but they were turning people away when I was leaving.

                                1. It depends a lot on what your other shopping options are.

                                  If you also shop at costco, a great local store like sprouts, and have a local farmstand bursting with fresh cheap produce then it may not be worth the trip with any frequency.

                                  I love trader joe's but i also don't have access to the options i listed either.

                                  Whole foods is in a seperate niche of its own with significantly higher prices than trader joes.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                    This is Stuart... there ARE no 'great local options'. There's a Fresh Market but I can't afford to buy anything there, there's Publix, and there's Walmart/Winn-Dixie. I do most of my shopping at Publix, but we can't afford their prices for meat - we drive 15 miles or so to BJs once a month or so for that. I went to the Farmers Market a few times but they're rolling up the pavement for the summer now and most of the vendors won't be back until October or November. But all is not lost... we're about to go check out a local bakery that says it's the 'best' bakery in the area - of course they fail to mention that they're pretty much the ONLY European-style bakery in the area... hopefully I'll be able to get some really nice bread and pastries. :) There are a few independant bagel shops but I don't actually like bagels!

                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                      Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Costco are all in WPB. Why not just change from BJ's to Costco?

                                      BF's parents live in PSL right off 95. They do a monthly trip down to the Costco for meats and other. Between visiting the airport, dining out, or shopping they can usually find some other reason for being down there. And I suspect that once TRader Joes opens it will be added to the list of stops. Doesn't hurt that one of their favorite early bird/ happy hour restaurants is also in the area.

                                      1. re: viperlush

                                        I'm guessing WPB is West Palm Beach. PSL?

                                        In the Twin Cities there are communities such as WBL, EP, WSP.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          WPB= West Palm Beach PSL= Port St Lucie

                                          Sorry, I get lazy typing on the smart phone.

                                  2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914618

                                    I drive 20 minutes, 15 miles. I would drive 30 miles perhaps not every week but regularly.

                                    1. I used to drive about 60 miles, so I guess I'd have to say yes.

                                      1. Gosh...I have one that's basically around the corner, and I can count on one hand (well maybe both hands) the number of times I've been there in the past 10 years. Somehow, I never went there 10 years ago because the kids were little, and I couldn't do a "full shop" there and didn't have time to go to two different grocery stores. So...never got in the habit of going there, so probably don't know what I'm missing, but don't go there at all.

                                        The few times I've been there, it's been "fine", but nothing to write home about. Too much frozen food...

                                        1. I live in Orlando-area, and we are just starting to get them. Haven't visited one in the area yet!

                                          I do know, when in Virginia, I LOVED browsing through the market for new-to-me products!

                                          Would I do it? Yes, probably... If there was something else nearby that I could also visit.


                                          1. When I do go to Trader Joe's my round trip drive is about 4 hours. So I only save it for when I am visiting friends or running errands in Charlotte.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: vttp926

                                              I used to drive about 80 miles to Charlotte so I'd only go when I had another reason to be in town. Now there's one in Winston about a mile away from the hospital where I work so I stop in several times a week!

                                              1. re: ohmyyum

                                                Well the distance to Winston is actually further for me at about 2 hrs and 15 mins to get there. But then again when I go to Winston I get to go to my favorite bakery aka Dewey's.

                                            2. Mine is probably within 5 miles, and I go only rarely. I was disappointed when I went the first time (had to drive thru a construction zone) that they were sold out of some of their most famous products. I would've been a lot more bummed had I driven 30 miles.

                                              OTOH, I guess it depends what other excitement is on offer ;) When we lived out in the country, any excuse would do for driving into the 'big city.'

                                              1. I don't particularly like to drive, so my answer is no. However, if you're going to the general area for another reason, it's worth stopping at.

                                                Buy then I have 2 TJ's within walking distance: there are some benefits to living in a densely populated area.

                                                1. Figure eighty miles round trip. Cost of gas and time. Maybe once a month. If your spending over $ 200.00.

                                                  1. We do it about every 6 weeks and think it is well worth while, both financially and food wise. And we drive 50 miles each way. There are 2 stores equally distant. The one in New York is in an area with every chain restaurant known to man so we are dabbling in lunches at places we never heard of or went to before.The other option is in central Mass and there is a Whole Foods next to it if you really want to throw your money around. We shopped at TJ's since the 90's in Greater Boston and there are so many items we "can't live without" that are not available in the western part of the state we moved to last summer or that are only available in gourmet food shops for much more than we pay at TJ's. Last fall I made up an Italian Food basket for an auction using all TJ products and when asked what I had spent by the organizer we realized that it would have cost 30 to 50% more if I had shopped at the local stupidmarkets.

                                                    1. Well, my drive to work one way is 34 miles, so 30 miles doesn't seem that far any more. However, I'd say if TJ's was 30 miles away, instead of 10 miles from my home, I'd probably only go sporadically. Currently, I probably go once a month on average, and stock up on non-perishable items. It don't consider it a "core" shopping destination, but more of a "fill in" for the fun items.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: BeeZee

                                                        That's a perfect description.

                                                        1. re: BeeZee

                                                          in my mind, TJ's is a food broker, not a grocer:
                                                          two entirely different animals

                                                        2. I can do 30 miles in half an hour. How long does it take you?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: genoO

                                                            If I'm on the highway for 30 miles, it's less than 30 minutes since I speed ;-)
                                                            However, I have to drive thru suburbia (traffic lights) to get onto the highway, then back off the highway (more traffic lights)...so it's 45 minutes at best.
                                                            Regarding TJ's 10 miles from my house, that will take me 15-20 minutes because it is a suburban location with a lot of congestion, plenty of traffic lights along the way.

                                                          2. We go occasionally (35 miles away) because it's in the same shopping center as Penzey's. I like TJ's almond milk, so I get that, and some Kerrygold butter and DH gets coffee beans. But the frozen foods....we don't eat prepared foods or prepared desserts, so they don't have much to tempt us there. I just haven't found more than a few items at TJ's that I can't make myself or get closer to home.

                                                            1. I think it is, occasionally. i'm spoioled, though, there's one a half-mile from my house. They have things I never want to be without, and sometimes their produce is brilliant. Go once with a big allowance and see what you like there.
                                                              I used to drive 120 miles to a Chinese supermarket that had everything, not often, but they had stuff I couldn't get anywhere else. Fortunately, they opened up one a mere 17 miles away a few years back.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                On top of Trader Joe AND Whole Food AND (anyday now) Fairway, all within a block of each other, there is also a killer "Oriental Market" (their actual name) a couple of blocks down. Utopia! I could spend all day in the area.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  unfortunately, the investors who are in control of fairway now have basically ruined the business- now nothing but high prices- and not the best quality.Yes, still a large selection ,but mostly what has survived are the high profit(read high priced) lines. cheeses now are the same as found everywheres for the most part. the pelham bakery is almost all kosher- baking w/o dairy = blech for the most part

                                                                  1. re: 51rich

                                                                    I only got to them once or twice a year until now, and I sensed what you are saying. Too little too late I guess. Their bakery never impressed me anyway, sad to say.

                                                              2. Where do you live?

                                                                I wish, like you, I lived in a location bereft of Trader Joes for tens of miles.

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  They just opened an Aldi's about a mile from where I live. Why, why, why, didn't they do a little Trader Joes instead?

                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                    Because they are owned by totally different companies. It's like asking why "they" opened a McDonalds instead of an In 'n Out.

                                                                    1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                      I know that, I wasn't asking in a business sense. More as a personal loss kind of issue. Our area has a different new chain place opening monthly so of course I have a list of "most wanted". Esoteric unusual stuff, Trader Joes would have been the winner in my book.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          lol Stuart Florida... it's not that far from 'civilisation' but it's a lot more small-towny. I've just had to expand my definition of what 'driving distance' is. Half an hour to the store is nothing...

                                                                          Oh well, when we moved into Fort Lauderdale ten years ago they didn't have any of these fancy national chains there either - Petsmart, Michaels crafts, Aldis, BJs, Office Depot etc all appeared in the last five years. Ironically, they opened the doors of Aldis three months before we moved away so I had just enough time to get hooked on their chocolate.

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Why you be hatin' TJ's, Ipse?

                                                                            I'd hate it if it was the only grocery store near me, but we live in a benevolent vortex of tons of grocery stores, and I for one am tickled shitless about that. But I do like TJ's for a lot of things

                                                                          2. I'm in a similar situation....the closest Trader Joe's is 17 miles away, about a 30 minute drive. When I lived closer to one, I was a regular TJ's shopper. But now? I'll swing by if I happen to be in the area where it's at but I don't find it worth it to make a special trip.

                                                                              1. Absolutely not. I am among those who have never understood the fascination with Trader Joe's.

                                                                                I would sooner drive 30 miles once a month to an Aldi store.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  Got no Aldi's here, how are they different?

                                                                                2. Just to go to Trader Joes? No. If I'm in the area I'll swing by. I live about 45 miles from TJs and my only other reasonable option is Kroger (there is a Whole Paycheck about 20 miles from my house).

                                                                                  1. 30 miles just to go to TJ's? No. We are TJ fans, but I combine my shopping there with my monthly haircut in Centreville VA. As much as we love some of their stuff -- frozen entrees, shaving cream, fruit leather, dried fruit, nuts, various chips, etc -- There's very little we could not live without.

                                                                                    1. Yes, definitely, without a doubt.

                                                                                      1. I think really the answer is what grocery/farm markets do you have and what are you looking for. If you live in a waste land that is only Piggly Wiggly perhaps. If you have Whole Foods/Wegmans other high end groceries nearbye, perhaps not.

                                                                                        1. Depends on what you have around you and what you like.
                                                                                          For me, not a chance.

                                                                                            1. Yes, it's worth it! I have 5 TJ's within a mile from my home, however, if I was to move somewhere and the closest one was 30 miles away, I would for sure do a monthly trip there. Can't live without my Soft and Juicy Dried Mandarins.

                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                Wait a minute, FIVE Trader Joe's stores within a mile of your home? If you don't mind, could you tell us what part of the country it is that you live?

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Something is wrong with that scenario. That would be 5 Tj's with in a potential 2 mile radius of each other......I don't think so. I'm anxious to hear where this is.

                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                    I'm not sure if you are familiar with West Hollywood, but I'm on basically Santa Monica and La Brea….Theres a Tj's on La Brea and 3rd, Fairfax and 3rd, Selma and Vine, Sunset and Crescent Heights, and Santa Monica and Westbourne (near La Cienaga). Some might be a mile and a half, I never measured :) They just closed down one on Santa Monica and Pointsettia, that would have made it 6!

                                                                                                    1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                      Ohhhhh well if they are a mile and a half that's a completely different story!! (joke)

                                                                                                      Hey thanks for providing the additional information, I'm not familiar with the area but I have no reason to doubt you. That kind of density in that close of an area really surprises me, after all TJ's isn't Mc D's where you are familiar with seeing one every mile or two.

                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                        Funny enough, though, even with all those around me, it's still a pain in the ass to go, since every single one has a crappy, too-small parking lot in a very congested area. The best one was the one that closed, it was about a two minute walk for me, and was located in a strip mall where all the other businesses had closed, leaving a gingantor parking lot just for TJ's (virtually unheard of in LA). It closed almost a year ago and the entire neighborhood is still in mourning.

                                                                                                        1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                          I'm on the East Coast, Jersey specifically, where I'm located we got our "local" TJ's about 2 years ago. Other than this one it's a good 30mins + to the next nearest one. I"m only aware of them being in Jersey maybe 5 years or so. I'm not very impressed with them, they have a few items I like, but I don't go out of my way to shop there.

                                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                            TJ's was always just another store for me, having grown up in So Cal where they've always been around, but since I moved so close to the now-defunct one, it became my primary source of groceries. Now I have certain items that have become staples and I would have a hard time living without.

                                                                                                    2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                      jrvedivici: what do you think is wrong with that scenario?
                                                                                                      west hollywood has 5
                                                                                                      hell, you can get 2 in 2 miles on rosecrans in the south bay.
                                                                                                      if we go up to 4 miles, i'm pretty sure that the two that i pass in westwood are within 4 miles of each other as are the west LA TJ's and the Santa Monica TJ's . . .

                                                                                                    3. re: John E.

                                                                                                      Yep, 5. Used to be 6, but one just closed down. I'm in West Hollywood, CA.

                                                                                                  2. Does 30 miles = 30 minutes or does 30 miles = 2 hours?

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: genoO

                                                                                                      Depends on where you live. Around here, it can be either.

                                                                                                    2. the answer to your question would depend on what is or isn't available closer to your home.

                                                                                                      if whole foods was one block away and tj's was 30 miles away, i'd probably pay the higher WF prices and skip the drive.)

                                                                                                      1. You said you MUST have their store brand natural shampoo and conditioner.....so crank up ol' Bessie and head on down to Ts and load up

                                                                                                        I like TJs.....fun place to visit and ship.....3-Buck Chuck win is certainly a big, big draw.....and I respect and appreciate the love and admiration that many folks have for this place! It's just not a destination for me.

                                                                                                        I'll go there, pick up some wine and some other odds and ends. Their store personnel are a delite to deal with. But I'm still a Publix . Whole Foods and Fresh Market kind of guy. The selection at those places crushes Trader Joes. Prices may be higher in some instances but their produce selection and meat departments are superior to TJs....

                                                                                                        Just one guy's opinion.....Will stop by TJs again soon. ...But it's not in my Top 4.

                                                                                                        Ft. Pierce, FL

                                                                                                        1. Simple answer is no. TJ's of 2014 doesn't even compare to TJ' of the 1990's when they had truly unique products. Most of their prepared foodstuffs have gone down hill as they have expanded and many of the other items can be gotten at other stores much closer.

                                                                                                          1. "Is it worth driving 30 miles to get to Trader Joes?"

                                                                                                            ^^^ depends on who you ask.

                                                                                                            from my standpoint, nope, not any more.
                                                                                                            don't want to be a party pooper but it just doesn't provide me with much of anything. there isn't a draw like there was back in the day or 25 years ago.

                                                                                                            now if you're talkin Grocery Outlet, that's a different subject.