Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Trader Joe's - It's a Love / Hate Thing

Trader Joe's is grocery chain that is very popular here in California. They are German owned and privately held ( I would buy stock with my last two cents if I could!) and are slowly spreading across this great land. Whenever, I consider moving to another state, I always check if they have a Trader Joe's!

For years, I drove within feet of the one in Tarzana every time I got off the freeway and I would never shop there. The sign said "Gourmet" and I was certain I couldn't afford it so I never went in!

And then someone told me that, yes TJ's had gourmet goods but they were exceptionally kind on the pocketbook. As a production manager in television commercials, I was forever needing a spread to impress someone. I had the price of fancy cheeses filed away in the back of my brain. I was in awe when I first went into Trader Joe's. Cheese I was paying 4.99 / lb. (20 years ago) were 2.99 at TJ's! I became a fan!

I loved the quality and I loved the price even better. To this day, if I can't get to TJ's for milk, I don't drink milk. The price is that much cheaper!

And of course, I came to love the new products they brought in. If something is trendy in food, they have it. Same thing goes for the vitamins and health foods they stock. A few years ago, my nutritionist suggested that soy protein was not as good as whey protein... and yep, Trader Joe's had made the switch!

But at the same time, I've come to realize, for a small grocery store to keep stocking new things, some things have to be let go. It's always made me a little sad when a favorite is taken away.

One recent removal was their Hot and Sweet Mustard. I loved it, but my mom simply adored it! She claimed it was the reason people raved over her deviled eggs. She gave my local store manager an earful on her recent trip about it being discontinued. The last time I flew to Baton Rouge (two years ago), I took Mom three jars only to have the TSA confiscate it - apparently too much liquid, although one could argue that mustard is NOT a liquid. It made us both so mad and I do hope that someone at the airport got to take that home! It was that good! I can't stand the thought of it being thrown away.

But the other day, I found out my favorite soup is discontinued. I always felt that it would be... I found the packaging a little stupid - a waste of shelf space. But I had hoped it would be replaced with a different can, not discontinued altogether.

They did replace the French Onion with a frozen version. You get 10 oz for $4.79 as opposed to a 28 oz can for 2.69...really? That's an improvement??

So, I'm mad at my favorite grocery store...until I run out of milk.


Words Between the Spaces said...

I completely agree with your love/hate relationship with TJs. I used to shop there when I lived in Hollywood, and was happy when they recently opened a new store here in D.C. But it's frustrating when they discontinue favorite items, and the produce is mostly below average. Still, they offer lots of interesting foods at great prices.

Snowbrush said...

I don't find them so cheap here compared to the competition, and so much of their stuff comes from far far away too, but there's always Three-Buck-Chuck!

Anonymous said...

There's a TJ not too far from me, I've never been there though. I keep saying I have to go look around but I never do. I'm going to try my damnedest to go there before the year is out!

I hate when stores discontinue products I've come to love. I still harbor a grudge against Crabtree & Evelyn for discontinuing Hawaiian White Ginger soaps.