What do you guys think of Trader Joe's?

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Joined Apr 3, 2009
Hello,

I am moving at the end of the month and my new place will be a few miles from a TJ's and looking for your opinions on the meats, fruits and veggies they offer. I have been to TJ's before but only a few times around 5 or 6 years ago so I am not to familiar with the store. I will have a Fred Meyer close by also but for my meats, fruits and veggies maybe TJ's is better?

Thanks,

Brian
 
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Joined Jan 3, 2005
I personally love Trader Joe's and wish it were a bit closer to my place.  Even so, I trek over there 2-3 times a month.

I really like that their products don't have artificial flavors or colors and that they carry some unusual items.  I just picked up dried hibiscus flowers on my last visit.

Their nuts and dried fruit are usually cheaper than the other stores in my area.  Their produce is hit or miss, I don't like the fact that many items come packaged, like a small bag of lemons or avocados, but their berries and cherry tomatoes this summer have been delicious and relatively cheap.  Many of their products are organic and customer service is always great.  If you want to sample something, just ask and they will open a package for you to try,

I don't often buy my meat there, but I love that they carry Niman Ranch's Sulfite/Sulfate free bacon.  It is delicious.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2006
Trader Joe's is on the opposite side of town from where I usualy shop.  Even so,  I make it over there about once a month.  I like many of their products. They have hard to find mixed nuts without salt, and very reasonably priced.  Their own name dairy products come from cows that have not been fed hormones to increase milk production.  I got some of their turkey "bacon",  but hubby didn't care much for it.  We haven't tried any of their fresh meats.  Their produce is nothing special, in my opinion.  Even so we manage to find enough good products in the store to go back on a regular basis. 

I agree that their customer service is really good.  The staff always seems very eager to help. 
 
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Joined Apr 16, 2006
Don't know how many times I've heard this:  "Yeah, we really love it here, it's just great!  Don't miss LA at all!!! (coupla beats, then, somberly:) Except Trader Joe's.  Really miss Trader Joe's..."

Milk, eggs, cheese, coffee, WINE... King Arthur AP or whole wheat, $3/5 lbs, three kinds of Callebaut chocolate $5/half kilo... (the latter two sold in Trader Joe's packaging).  I usually get produce & meat elsewhere, though.  They do have excellent frozen fish.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
The nearest TJ's is 5 1/2 hours away.

Are they a spin off of Whole Foods or Sam's Club?
 
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Joined May 3, 2007
Are they (Trader Joe's) a spin off of Whole Foods or Sam's Club?
No. TJ's is part of a German corporate grocery retailer. Theo Albrechet, recently deceased, was the CEO of TJ's and his brother, Karl, has a similar position with the Aldi's chain..
 
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Joined Feb 13, 2008
Trader Joe's is part of a German chain only if Monrovia, CA is in Germany.  For the record, TJ's is currently owned by a private, American trust set up by one of the (German) Albrecht brothers as a condition of the transfer from Coulombe in '79 which infused a lot of cash allowing for major expansion.  Theo Albrecht also has an interest in Aldi's, a German chain.  But except for this overlap, Aldi's is not the same as TJ's, a large majority of TJ's trustees and beneficiaries are American, as are the officers of the company. 

TJ's was started by Joe Coulombe and his wife on what was a rather whimisical model for the time.  Beyond the "South Seas" motif, the idea was that a school teacher could stop on her way home from work, and pick up what she needed to prepare a quick, decent, affordable, (not always) healthy, and fairly hip meal -- not to mention a glass of affordable wine.  The concept included (and includes) a pretty good selection of pre-packaged frozen food, not to mention the ever-popular bag of blue-corn tortilla chips and pre-made guacamole.

Trader Joe's is one of a kind -- well 343 of a kind.  The model has evolved into a schizophrenic inventory of staples and impulse items.  TJ's isn't stocked like a supermarket with an eye on the lowest common denominator.  Everything on their shelves seems to be there for someone

That someone isn't always going to be you.  But so what?  They didn't intend it to be your only market.  It's a great place to go regularly for the things they have you like, but is is too limited in general and has too many overpriced and/or bogus products to be your only store.   Unleash your inner school teacher, avoid Hansen's sodas like the plague, and you won't go far wrong.

As has been said:   Fantastic dairy and eggs, to the point that if you buy anywhere else (other than directly from a farm), you're doing it wrong.  Excellent cheese -- but the selection isn't unlimited.  Great wine and booze -- ditto.  Good prices on good olive oil, but don't buy regular ol' vegetable oil from them.  So it goes.

TJ's expanded its product line significantly during the Great Checker's Strike of 2005 (or was it 6?).  They added significantly to their fresh meat section for instance.  The meats are all good quality, but some are hugely overpriced.   One of the great places for Thanksgiving turkey.  They sell (nearly) fresh kosher birds, which function as though they were pre-brined.   It bears repeating that their frozen fish is good.

Frys, the SoCal electronics chain, was also build around a "South Seas" motif.  Coincidence? 

I think not,

BDL
 
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Joined Jul 3, 2009
Trader Joe's is excellent. Great buys for wine, cheese, nuts, and snicky-snacky foods. A lot of their chips are low in fat and salt. Their wine and cheese are a lot cheaper than any mainstream grocer. I do agree with someone saying up above about the prepackaged veggies and fruits (avocados, onions, potatoes, limes, lemons etc.) Produce is stilll good though. Nice selection of beer too. Seasonings are cheap but not a whole lot to choose from. Good options for rice, quinoa, and lentils. Overall, thumbs up for sure.
 
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Joined May 3, 2007
Trader Joe's is part of a German chain only if Monrovia, CA is in Germany.  For the record, TJ's is currently owned by a private, American trust set up by one of the (German) Albrecht brothers as a condition of the transfer from Coulombe in '79 which infused a lot of cash allowing for major expansion.  Theo Albrecht also has an interest in Aldi's, a German chain.  But except for this overlap, Aldi's is not the same as TJ's, a large majority of TJ's trustees and beneficiaries are American, as are the officers of the company.

BDL
You are correct in that the headquarters of Trader Joe's is in Monrovia, CA; absolutely incorrect that it is owned by an American trust. Theo Albrecht has no interest in Aldi's for two main reasons: (1) Theo is dead (2) Theo and his brother Karl had a falling out several years ago; Karl being the CEO and primary stockholder in Aldi's. They had no cross ownership of the two chains. T.J.'s because of the nature of its business and its U.S. federal and state regulators, must be filed as a business entity dealing in consumable foodstuffs in each state where it does business. It is, however, privately owned by the heirs to Theo Albrecht's estate, who primarily reside auf Deutschland.
 
 
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Joined May 3, 2007
  One of the great places for Thanksgiving turkey.  They sell (nearly) fresh kosher birds, which function as though they were pre-brined.
BDL
For several years, until 2009, these fresh kosher birds were sourced from Rubashkin Meatpacking dba Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. The Fed shut Rubashkin down after an investigation found that at least 400 workers at the plant were illegal aliens. CEO Sholom Rubashkin was convicted in November 2009 of defrauding a St. Louis bank of $26 million. He had been fabricating invoices and shipping papers in order to maintain a $35 million credit line. Consumer Reports and Cook's Magazine did rate the Rubashkin processed turkeys as the best in the marketplace in 2007 and 2008. For Thanksgiving 2009, TJ's sourced the turkeys elsewhere. While TJ's has refused to "divulge" its current source, it appears to be Empire Kosher Poultry Corporation, the U.S. largest kosher poultry processor.
 
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Joined Aug 11, 2000
TJ's .....it's a regular shop for me.

Good breads (for STL)  Tuscan is $2.29

Bananas are 19 cents each

cereal, coffee, vegetables, yogurts, nuts, dried fruits, juices, wines/beers....meats, sometimes...

It's designed for a couple or small family, everything is packaged accordingly.

The staff is welcoming, helpful and will go out of their way to make things right.

The only complaint I have is the one closest to me has tiny parking spaces in a crowded lot.....

and if I end up stopping on a weekend it's wacky busy.
 
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Joined Aug 19, 2010
  The model has evolved into a schizophrenic inventory of staples and impulse items.  TJ's isn't stocked like a supermarket with an eye on the lowest common denominator.  Everything on their shelves seems to be there for

someone
This is the absolute best description of Trader Joe's that I've ever read!  So very true!  I love Trader Joes---lots of unusual things you can't find anywhere else.  A must try IMO are the vacuum fried Banana Chips--their Hummus is also very good.
 
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Joined Nov 6, 2004
Hello,

I am moving at the end of the month and my new place will be a few miles from a TJ's and looking for your opinions on the meats, fruits and veggies they offer. I have been to TJ's before but only a few times around 5 or 6 years ago so I am not to familiar with the store. I will have a Fred Meyer close by also but for my meats, fruits and veggies maybe TJ's is better?

Thanks,

Brian
   Hi Brian,

   I may not have a very popular opinion of TJ's, but what does it matter what I think? 

   I really don't care for Trader Joe's that much.  I can certainly see the appeal and why some people like it.  But it just doesn't suit my needs very well. 

   What I believe TJ's does very well is supply some nice looking prepared foods/ready to heat foods/unique snack stuff and some decent wine.  My problem is that I really don't cook like that.  I normally either buy fresh ingredients or grow some of my own vegetables and herbs to use in my cooking.   I'm also not into everything covered in chocolate.  Don't get me wrong...I love a small bite of a chocolate bar...but that's usually it.  Just a small piece of a real nice piece of chocolate. 

    Just within the same shopping plaza as TJ's are the fresh seafood place that I buy from and a decent grocery store with a nice butcher department and some really good tasting meat.  On the way to TJ's I've got several ethnic stores that are on the way and much better for produce items.  On the same note I've got a much better selections of cheese from a local shop, which also has good prices (and has just started carrying Iberico bellota).

    But I have to admit, even if I didn't have better options close by I probably wouldn't make the trip to TJ's.  Not because it isn't a nice store...it just doesn't fit my needs very well.

  dan
 
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2010
You have to be careful at Trader Joe's.  Not everything is organic even though the store seems to try to give out an aura of being a store like Whole Foods.  They carry two types of milk, the Trader Joe's regular brand isn't organic.  You have to get the one that clearly says it on the carton (it's more expensive).  The produce can be good,but most of it isn't organic either.  They don't carry any fresh lettuce, everything comes from bags.  The meats are just OK, I don't think they are any better than a regular grocery store.  They don't carry specialized stuff like grass fed beef.  They do carry free range chicken breasts.  I consider TJ to be a step above a regular grocery store but below a grocery store like Whole Foods.  
 
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Joined Aug 25, 2010
The regular meats might not be special but you can find cured meats such as prosciutto much cheaper than other places (I think it was about $4 for a 4 oz packet at the TJ by Union Square in NY). They also sell lox for relatively cheap and stock some excellent condiments. I really like their whole-grain mustard. I'm not sure about other Trade Joe's but mine always had a huge line going around the store. I suggest going in with a friend waiting on line for you.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2006
I have never had a long wait for check-out at the Trader Joe's where I shop.  However,  I also pick my shopping day & time carefully to avoid the crowds.  A friend and I went once on a Saturday.  First,  getting a parking space was challenging.  Then we could find only one cart,  so we had to share...sort of like carpooling during rush hour.  Even so,  checking out didn't take a long time.  Recently my husband wanted to see what TJ's was like.  He said he's becoming fed up with how inconsiderate the shoppers are where we usually go.  I told him "TJ's is just a better class of rudeness".   Well, can't blame the store for that.  But, he's difficult to please,  after all,  the moon, stars and sun are all supposed to revolve around him.  I'll be going to TJ's without him most of the time. 
 
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