Nuts to Trader Joe’s II

I can’t wait for Trader Joe’s to get here. Cant wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!

It’s not because I’m craving the Trader Joe’s Shrimp with Spicy Green Curry or the deliciously crispy Beer Battered Vidalia Sweet Onion Rings. Or because I’m jonesing for that Carmelized Nut Trio. Nope. I can’t wait because I’m so fu**ing sick of hearing about Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s, the groovy kid sister of German mega-mart Aldi, is opening in Rochester — and the local Trader Joe’s cultists are foaming at the mouth because Albany may be next.

Or could their mouths be foaming because they’re not eating enough fresh food?

Trader Joe’s is heavy on prepared packaged products — in fact, those are the things that TJ fanatics rave about. Imagine a Stouffer’s frozen dinner, except all organic and stuff. Or pretzels made without genetically modified flour — which is probably good if you eat tons of pretzels.

Industry watchers agree that Trader Joe’s is a lousy place to buy meat, bread, produce, and fish so I’m thinking it’s not a good choice for serious cooks. And if you like to cook, you would never buy a frozen dinner from anywhere, organic or not.

So what if Trader Joe’s does come to Albany? Most people will never go there. The next largest group will go there occasionally, the way they go to the co-op now and then for kicks. And a very, very, very small and elite group will practically live there.

I shopped at Aldi recently and kinda liked it. I needed $20 of canned beans and paid just $10. Like Trader Joe’s, its strength is packaged goods –  and I really didn’t mind that it only helped me stretch my dollar, not my hipster cache.

25 thoughts on “Nuts to Trader Joe’s II

  1. Agree, agree, agree. Likewise Wegman’s. Likewise the already stale The Fresh Market in Latham . . . whose pre-packaged mixes and candy bins remind me of Cracker Barrel . . .

    In Des Moines, the big chains are Dahls and Hy-Vee . . . so I’m sort of curious to see which one is Hannaford’s analog, and which one is Price Chopper’s analog, and which one aspires to hipster cred by mimicking the Trader Joe approach to unhealthy living.

    On the flip side, I will miss Stewart’s, since the big local chain out there is called (shudder) Kum N’ Go . . .

    1. At least you can buy a cut of meat at Wegman’s — which is not to say supermarket butchers are anything to write home about. Most of them, while helpful and cheery, wouldn’t know how to de-bone a whole chicken, for example.

      And I think we need a picture of the “Kum n’ Go” sign for verification!

      1. Kum n’ Go was actually advertising for a position that I’m immensely qualified for at a corporate level . . . . . . and I just could not bring myself to send in that resume to them . . .


        Oh, Stewarts, how I shall miss your Kayaderosseros Cream and Crumbs Along the Mohawk . . .

        I certainly don’t want to order anything with sprinkles at the Kum & Go . . .

  2. Stewart’s has always been famous for their “make your own” sundaes. “Kum n’ Go tried to market the “Happy Ending” sundae but, Friendly’s shut that down.

    1. That name always makes me laugh. I’m pretty that sure Friendly’s now focus groups new products with 13-year-old boys.

  3. That’s a very simplistic view of Trader Joe’s.

    I don’t think anyone is saying it’s the ONLY place they’d ever shop, just that they would like acsess to Trader Joe’s lineup of exceptional products. Combine TJs, your local farmer’s market, and a good butcher or fish market and you can have a very well rounded shopping experience.

    1. TJ, it would be awesome to shop in four or five different places every week — I would love that. But the only it will happen is if I have no job, in which case I’ll be back at Aldi…

  4. Rob, I’ve got to disagree with your assessment of TJs. I’m an avid cook and love shopping there. They have great pasta, cheese, olives, spices, chocolate, herbs, bread, etc. It’s not all pre-made frozen dinners. I also like a lot of their pre-marinated meat (carne asada, cabernet lamb tips, etc.). They also carry wine at very good prices (oh, that’s right, you can’t BUY WINE in a grocery in NY State!) Also, I think you are significantly under estimating their appeal. Ever been to a Trader Joe’s on the week-end (even in tiny Hadley)? Madness.

    1. Oh, Karen… this grocery store wine thing is killing me — but besides that, thanks for the comment.

      Anyhow, for those unfamiliar with Hadley, you should check it out on the map. It sits squarely between Northampton and Amherst, meaning that it is quite possibly at the very center of New England’s progressive universe.

      Pardon me for generalizing, but the people I see around there — and I do enjoy that area and its denizens — are EXACTLY the sort of folks who love Trader Joe’s. You don’t have to be a siting expert to figure out that the Hadley TJs is going to be a busy place.

      I suppose that I lived around there I’d tool on over to TJs on Saturday, listening to WRSI in my Volvo wagon, and stock up on all my favorite Trader Joe’s packaged foods. That’s cool — but I’m figuring that it won’t make as much sense around Albany.

  5. So I cook dinner for the family from scratch almost every day. On rare days I throw up my hands and give up. The “emergency dinner” is generally Kraft Mac & Cheese. But I would love to have one of the better choices available at TJs in my freezer for just such an emergency.

    I’ve stopped banging the TJs drum. They’ll come when they are good and ready, and I’ll be there to greet them.

    It’s the Big W that I think might need a little cajoling.

  6. I’m also a scratch cook. We eat well in my house. No fast food. (OK, once a month I cave for 5 Guys or Chipotle only) No processed foods, etc. That being said, I love Trader Joe’s and I too will welcome them when and if they come to the capital region….I’m just not holding my breath.

    I like their whole wheat bread, english muffins, cereal, nuts, dried fruit, earth friendly detergent and cleaning products, paper towels, etc. I also like their olive oil, balsamic, canned beans, vodka sauce, frozen veggies for the winter when the farmer’s market is lacking…I could go on but then you might label me a fanatic.

    I think there are fanatics and there are those of us that appreciate Trader Joe’s for what they are. I’d for sure still shop elsewhere for meat and produce. Oh, except bacon! Trader Joe’s sells Niman Ranch bacon and that’s my crack.

    1. Mmmmmmmm… bacon. No, anybody who loves bacon is OK in my book.

      Now it’s 3am and you’ve got me thinking about bacon. If I leave now, I can be at Oscar’s Smokehouse in Warrensburg by 4:15… what time do you suppose they open?

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  8. No one will go there? You really have no idea what you’re talking about. Have you always lived in this area? I’m guessing yes.

    1. Clearly, one must be some sort of Upstate rube to not understand why Trader Joe’s is so awesome.

      That’s hilarous.

      You, my friend, are the sort of elitist snob that makes the rest of us hate Trader Joe’s. And no, most people — ordinary folks who are your neighbors, those who race around every day to get things done and make ends meet — will never, ever set foot in Trader Joe’s.

      For the record, I did not grow up here, but in a major metropolitan area — however, I suppose I’ve lived in the Capital Region long enough to take on the backward ways of the provincials.

  9. Hey you said rube and provincial, not me. Way to wrap your self up with ordinary folks rhetoric 101, too. Very Mellencampy!

    1. Ha… so true.

      I suppose I’ll just go shop at Aldi to solidify my populist cred. They own Trader Joe’s, as you know.

  10. It is rumored that an unruly band of former Occupiers will march up Wolf Rd with a tent held aloft to the future site of TJ’s, where they’ll encamp w/o a permit until it opens. There may also be Tebowing (unconfirmed).

  11. Please please please let us all in on the holy hierarchy of “non-elitist” grocery stores. As a single, childless parasite working a lowly civil service job, it is my fundamental DUTY to avoid whatever econobastards you see worthy as only for the “elite”. Thank you for opening my eyes to how I am in the “elite”! Shall I chuck my compact diesel car so I might drive with real gasoline like the masses, O’ Master Skeletor? Is my lack of basic cable unworthy of you?Or my single bedroom apartment with no laundry/garbage disposal/washing machine? Is that elitistm also unfit for you to gaze upon? Aaaaaack! My evil library card must be torched, as alas I go there to often to be of the masses!
    Forgive me, and my Wegmans/TJs/Whole Foods shopping habits, Master Skeletor! I am elitist and purchased what I could afford & thought was yummy! Aaaaargh! (size C-cup breast beating commences, followed by headshaving, and pyre-burning of all Ani Difranco records)

    1. Haha… whatever.

      I will give you points for the Ani Difranco reference. That was good, but other than that? You’ve proven yourself to be the bigger asshole, so I guess you win.


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