How do I love Trader Joe’s? Let me count the ways.
I hate grocery shopping. As a new bride, supporting my then husband through school, I budgeted groceries for two through a nefarious envelope system. There were the years I shopped with one babe on my hip and one attempting his escape out of the cart. There were years adolescents begged for snacks they knew were not on approved list of mom’s good-for-you eats —through every aisle of temptations. When all the birdies flew the nest, grocery shopping became an even more irritating chore. My late husband, however, oddly enjoyed the food shopping gig and happily took over the the gritty household item list, knowing he could also drop in treats that weren’t on HIS healthy list. The upside was, that also left me with grocery nirvana – Trader Joe’s.
Disclaimer: Before you think this is merely a PR shill for the store, no groceries have been harmed in the writing of this blog; nor has Trader Joe’s contributed to my advertising earnings. (Damn it) Any words of praise were simply written as an ode to grocery shopping done right – in my humble opinion.
People’s shopping preferences are as different as tomato/potato. As for me, there’s nothing like picking up ‘just two things’ (hah!) in the welcoming aisles of Trader Giotto’s. If you’ve never been, it’s hard to articulate the contrasting experiences of weekly foraging. Maybe it’s TJ’s mellow-yellow vibe, where flower children of the 60’s can subtly dance with their grocery carts to reminiscent funky tunes or maybe it’s the Haight-Ashbury playlist. Either way, I’m totally cool with it.
From his first visit, my youngest grandson became both a TJ’s maxi fan – and a mini celeb. Greeting everyone with ‘hello, my friend’ and a 1000 watt smile made him an ad hoc mayor. As he got old enough to man one of their tiny shopping carts, he also became the shortest freelance staff member, allowed to help hand packages to a store worker stocking a shelf. He’s such a fanboy that he insisted one birthday party have a TJ’s theme, dressed in his Hawaiian store shirt and ID tag I made to complete the outfit.
Ever get the Trader Joe’s flyer? It’s like a vintage black and white comic book for foodies. I suspect you could gain weight by simply leafing through the decadent flyer! Holidays alone, put the funk in foodstuffs. When it comes to all things pumpkin, (to which I’ve never been a fan) they have a seemingly limitless way of injecting into everything edible. Their copywriters (take my resume please!) might have Master’s in Pun-manship. With product names like ‘this fig walks into a bar’ and ‘hold the cone’, they cover all the marketing bases. Chocolate is apparently a staple (don’t stand still too long) that drenches everything from Edamame to Pomegranate seeds, even potato chips. Take a trip around the world – in a few grocery aisles.
The home of two-buck chuck (now three but who’s counting), this store offers some cool artisan brews (not a beer drinker but I hear things) and foods to die for. Hate those annoying grocery PA systems calling for clean up on aisle ? Like Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life, every time a bell rings a customer finds his Holy Grail of foods.
In an increasingly divided, stressful world, a bit chill is good to find. Why not pick up a little Zen with with your chubby frozen blueberries?
Flower leis, Hawaiian shirts, tasty samples and a eco-crunchy place that regularly donates to food banks – what’s not to love? Tell yourself you can stop at a bag of spinach and some organic laundry detergent, and just like that, there are triple ginger snaps, frozen macarons and chicken pizza in your shopping cart. Hey, if you can party down every time you make a milk, bread or eggs run – why the heck not?
Shopping at stores like Trader Joe’s, a Tiki paradise on speed (minus cocktails and hula girls, of course) guarantees a non-genetically modified grocery party. Think of it as an organic Cheers where, even if they don’t know your name, you’re still family.
It’s all good.