Started from a chain of convenience stores in California in 1958, Trader Joe’s is a privately held company with 365 stores in 30 states. They have gotten recognition for having excellent customer service, high sales per square foot (according to some sources, twice that of Whole Foods), and Consumer Reports ranked Trader Joe’s the second-best grocery chain after Wegmans in 2009. They are famous for the careful curation of its offerings. TJ’s floor space is limited, so rather than have 12 options for a particular item, they have four very good ones. I love the combination of low cost, fun shopping environment, helpful staff, and products you can’t find anywhere else.
Trader Joe’s is notoriously stringent when it comes to their formulations. For vendors who produce food for their house label, they have four pages single spaced of the ingredients that can’t be used. For those of us who want or need to know exactly what is in the food we eat, there are product lists for all sorts of parameters: sodium, fat free, Kosher, vegan, and no gluten.
Having a sense of fun is one of Trader Joe’s hooks and on their website in the Q and A section they answer the question about why the Hawaiian shirts:
”We wear Hawaiian shirts because we’re traders on the culinary seas, searching the world over for cool items to bring home to our customers. And when we return home, we think grocery shopping should be fun, not another chore. So just relax and leave your worries at the door. We’ll sail those seven seas, you have some fun with our finds at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.”
The customer passian and loyalty for TJ’s is remarkable. There is a lovely ditty posted on YouTube singing its praises and the frustrations of beloved items that come and go. In working on this post I found a website devoted to What’s Good at Trader Joe’s, by a local fan. I love hearing what other people get at TJ’s because these small stores are so crammed with items, there is inevitably things you never knew they had.
I’ve recently added to my shopping list:
- Trader Joe’s Heat and Eat Falafel
- Trader Ming’s General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce
- Trader Ming’s Mandarin Orange Chicken
- Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crusts (yes, I cheat sometimes)
- Trader Joe’s Duchess Grey Tea
- Toast slivered almonds
- Greek pizza (Olympiad)
- Broccoli salad
- Sour cherries in a jar
- Salsa verde
- Wild Maine blueberries
- Lobster bisque
- Organic limes and lemons
- Dark chocolate covered almonds with salt
Abington, PA 19046
112 Coulter Avenue