“Oh how I love Trader Joe’s. Let me count the ways.” While this is true today, it hasn’t always been the case. Many years ago, when my friends first raved about it, I checked it out. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. The aisles were small and the shelves were crowded. It looked different than the grocery stores I was accustomed to and all the product labels were unfamiliar. I found a few things, but ended up going back to the comfort of those traditional large shopping aisles I had grown up with.
Some time went by. As the health nut in me grew, I was increasingly on the lookout for gmo-, antibiotic- and hormone- free dairy, meat and snacks. This wasn’t easy. Whole Paycheck was not an option–for obvious reasons when you are shopping for a family of 7. At my same old, same old grocery store, the number of items I felt comfortable buying seemed to be shrinking every week. I felt there were health dangers lurking in every corner. I was at an impasse.
This was when Trader Joe’s hit my radar screen again. I gave those small aisles another chance. I really started looking at the selection. Suddenly, it was like a gift from the heavens. Trader Joe’s is chock full of its store brand, which is often an existing excellent brand labeled exclusively for Trader Joe’s. Guess what? The TJ’s brand does not use gmos in any of its snacks, crackers, breads or frozen foods. None. Ever. Hallelujah! They have a fabulous flash frozen fish selection. TJ’s has organic dairy, but if you are not into spending the extra moolah on organic, they have well priced conventional dairy without added hormones or antibiotics. If you have celiac, or simply a gluten intolerance, there are hundreds of gluten-free options in the store. The produce section has a large selection of both organic and conventionally grown fruits and veggies-often locally sourced. This entire summer I have been able to get organic strawberries for $3 a quart. TJ’s has a decent selection of organic chicken and ground beef, but honestly this area could use some improvement.
And now for the pièce de résistance. Trader Joe’s is crazy affordable. I live on the East Coast; New York to be exact. Everything in New York (except, oddly, a mani/pedi) is ridiculously expensive. But TJ’s fabulous business model cuts out the middleman and focuses on stocking minimal but quality brands—the recipe that keeps the Trader Joe’s prices low. Good, wholesome, safe food made from real ingredients for an affordable price. Love, love, love.
Trader Joe’s has some of the best customer loyalty in the business. Customer research firm Market Force recently released its annual “Favorite Grocery Stores” report. Guess who topped the list? You got it, my beloved Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s was described as having a “cult following… fervent fans…zealous brand activists.” Count me among them. It just feels great to shop somewhere that is in line with my beliefs. To pick up products and trust what the labels say. And it doesn’t hurt that Trader Joe’s advertising and brand is quirky and fun.
Not only have I gotten used to the smaller set up of Trader Joe’s, I have fallen in love with it. I do eighty percent of my shopping there. I am in and out of the store in 30 minutes and feel confident that I am feeding my family healthy and safe food. “Oh how I love my Trader Joe’s.”
How about you? Do you have a store or product that you can’t live without? What brands do you trust? Please leave your comments below.
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