Here's a topic that I will NEVER get sick of talking about - why I am such a big freaking fan of Trader Joe's?! For those of you who don't know what this place is - here is their description of themselves from their website:
"It all started in the 50s... Would you believe we started out as a small chain of convenience stores? It’s true. Way back in 1958. We were called Pronto Markets. In ‘67, our founder, the original Trader Joe, changed our name (yes, to Trader Joe’s) and the way we do business.
We made the stores bigger (if you can imagine), decked the walls with cedar planks and donned our crew in cool Hawaiian shirts. Most importantly, we started packaging innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods under the “Trader Joe’s” name. That cut our costs and saved you money. Still does. And that’s important, because “Value” is a concept we take very seriously. And by ‘Value,’ we mean great everyday prices on all of our great products — no sales, no gimmicks, no clubs to join, no special cards to swipe... How do we do it?
We buy direct from suppliers whenever possible, we bargain hard to get the best price, and then pass the savings on to you.
If an item doesn’t pull its weight in our stores, it goes away to gangway for something else.
We buy in volume and contract early to get the best prices.
Most grocers charge their suppliers fees for putting an item on the shelf. This results in higher prices... so we don’t do it.
We keep our costs low — because every penny we save is a penny you save.
It’s not complicated. We just focus on what matters — great food + great prices = Value."
Now, I haven't always been a loyal TJ customer. Back in my mid twenties, before kids and back when I worked full time as a physical therapist, I liked to shop at Whole Foods. Jarrett, my husband, likes to call it "whole paycheck". So, as you can imagine when my kids were born and I didn't go back to work full time, something had to change! I was super unimpressed by the selection of organic food or grass fed beef/organic chicken in Stop n' Shop or Shoprite and if I could find anything it was way too damn expensive. Like, NO.
I asked around and after chatting with one of my like-minded, organic-eating foodie patients - she had convinced me to at least try shopping at Trader Joe's. I wasn't happy. I had never heard of it. I had to drive 25 minutes to this freaking place. But, I was on the hunt for organic food at a bargain. Off I went one Saturday morning (worst time by the way!)...
My first trip was comical. Dude, where IS everything??? These aisles are ridiculous, disorganized and why the hell are so many people in here??
I left with some organic lettuce, dried apricots that looked kinda cool and some chicken. And I proceeded to finish my shopping at Stop n' Shop on my way home.
I didn't give up because I realized that I had only spent $16 at Trader Joe's that day. Hmm. So the next week, I gave myself some extra time and went on a Thursday afternoon to avoid all the crazies. I purchased everything on my grocery list except ketchup for Jarrett because I couldn't find it. And my bill was $85. Swear to GOD.
I started looking at all of the different varieties of foods they sold, how they were all in season and only had the freshest ingredients out. I noticed how certain popular items flew off the shelves and if I didn't grab it right away I'd have to wait until the next week (like organic, unrefined coconut oil in a jar for only $6). The "crazies" who shopped there knew. They stocked up.
My weekly meal planning started revolving around Trader Joe's selections of foods because I was saving money, eating well and learning about new foods in the process. I was actually having FUN. Nothing is ever on sale. It doesn't have to be, it's always at a discount. And no coupon-ing is another win for me!
Side note, they also have this stuffed animal Husky dog that they place in a different spot every day and if your kids find him they get to ring the bell at the checkout and get an organic lollipop. #winningwithtoddlers
And the customer service is impeccable. I once brought home a rotton apple (that my husband found, lol) and he called to complain about their produce (he's like that). He was told to have me explain the scenario to the customer service desk when I arrived at my next visit. Not only did they give me a $10 gift card for our troubles, but half way into my grocery shopping, another manager stopped me to apologize and handed me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers to take home. #sold
I evolved to LOVE this place. I talk about it all the time because I see VALUE in it. They are good people, doing good things. Their mission jives with my mission. I support good people and promote the hell out of them. So - there in a nutshell is my obsession with Trader Joe's. Quality, integrity, value and honesty.