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Trader Joe's - I don't get it

Trader Joe's - I don't get it
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  • Post #151 - February 12th, 2010, 1:00 pm
    Post #151 - February 12th, 2010, 1:00 pm Post #151 - February 12th, 2010, 1:00 pm
    Just returned from a successful shopping trip to Trader Joe's (successful meaning I got the things I went to get, and managed to keep the impulse buys to a minimum) with the one detriment being those "shopper in training" carts. Whose bright idea was it to give toddlers a battering ram? It's annoying at Strack & Van Til, but downright hazardous in a store as crowded and small as that one.
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #152 - February 12th, 2010, 1:07 pm
    Post #152 - February 12th, 2010, 1:07 pm Post #152 - February 12th, 2010, 1:07 pm
    Suzy Creamcheese wrote:Whose bright idea was it to give toddlers a battering ram?


    Love it.

    Unrelated, if you, like me, had a box of these granola bars in your cabinet at the start of the day, you might like to toss or seal it and return it to the store (recall):

    http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/the ... -bars.html

    Between these and the Evil Numbing Pine Nuts of Palate-Destroying Doom +3, I'm beginning to have some supplier concern. That seems to be ubiquitous these days, though.
  • Post #153 - February 15th, 2010, 10:33 am
    Post #153 - February 15th, 2010, 10:33 am Post #153 - February 15th, 2010, 10:33 am
    It is actually very difficult not to have a love-hate relationship with Trader Joe’s.
    I hate them often when they are out of something I have been buying for years and that suddenly disappears from the shelf. When you ask a manager about it, he usually ends up, after some researching, telling you that it is either missing at the warehouse and they do not know when they will get it, or that it has been discontinued. I suspect that the reason some popular items are so often discontinued is that TJ’s corporate buyers are no longer able to secure a guaranteed low price from their suppliers. Let’s not forget that T.J’s belongs to Theo Albrecht, the German billionaire, who along with his brother, controls ALDI, the German Grocery group. It is well known that their grocery stores, world-wide, are more concerned about securing low prices, than providing high quality products.
    I also really dislike their merchandising policy and inability to keep their stocks re-supplied in a consistent manner. I cannot believe that their employees have to check and hand-write down on a paper log how many products are still available on each shelf, instead of checking the bar-codes electronically.
    I also think that their fresh cheese quality control, packaging, storing and warehousing methods are totally inadequate. Same comment for their fruits, vegetables, and often nuts.
    To me most of their fresh and frozen meat products are really at best very “average”. But their selection of hams and dry sausages, and other deli products is fine. Same for their butter, yogurts, and eggs.
    Several of their bread products, especially whole and multigrain, are good and affordable.
    The quality of their locally baked products is very variable.
    What I really like is their very affordable imported wines, mustards, condiments, pasta products, canned (and in glass containers) salsa, vegetables, specialty pickled stuff, and frozen patisserie. They had a very edible frozen “buche de Noel” (yule log) during the Christmas period.
    I also like the generally helpful attitude of the staff, and a very pleasant atmosphere in the store (I go to the Lincoln Avenue).
    To summarize my impression of TJ’s: It is a store that requires a lot of practice. You have to experiment a lot before selecting a few products that are consistently good and then you keep coming for these products. But, for the type of items I usually buy (bread, pasta, sauces, Dijon mustard, canned artichoke hearts, Jarlsberg cheese, wine, eggs, dry sausage, prosciutto, shampoo, French soap, unsalted butter, cornichons, herbs, spices and garlic powder, vitamins, frozen peas, frozen French patisserie, and a few others) I will no doubt prefer to spend my money at TJ’s that at Jewell or Whole Foods.
  • Post #154 - February 15th, 2010, 11:57 am
    Post #154 - February 15th, 2010, 11:57 am Post #154 - February 15th, 2010, 11:57 am
    alain40 wrote:What I really like is their very affordable imported wines, mustards . . .

    I'm not the biggest Trader Joe's fan but I visit regularly, though not frequently. Wine and mustard are two things I always buy.

    The Charles Shaw wines, to me, are mostly undrinkable (and no bargain even at three bucks) but it's remarkable what six dollars will get you (alain40 has written before about some of his favorites and I completely agree with his choices). I think their wine buyers do an excellent job, particularly in the under-$10 range.

    Of all Trader Joe's products I think I'm most impressed with their Dijon mustard. This is excellent mustard regardless of price but when you consider a 13 ounce jar is only $1.79 (recently raised from $1.69) it's really an incredible value. These days I find myself looking for any excuse to make mustard vinaigrette.

    This thread will encourage me to try a few things I probably wouldn't have bothered with otherwise.
  • Post #155 - February 15th, 2010, 1:33 pm
    Post #155 - February 15th, 2010, 1:33 pm Post #155 - February 15th, 2010, 1:33 pm
    The Charles Shaw wines, to me, are mostly undrinkable (and no bargain even at three bucks)


    Although the adage of "never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink" may hold true in some instances, we use the Shaw for steaming artichokes and it works well for the price.
  • Post #156 - February 15th, 2010, 1:55 pm
    Post #156 - February 15th, 2010, 1:55 pm Post #156 - February 15th, 2010, 1:55 pm
    Rene G

    I am in total agreement with last post: T.J's Dijon mustard is the best real Dijon mustard I have found on this side of the Atlantic.
    First, it is really made in Dijon, France, and secondly its components are the only ingredients which are supposed to be used in such a mustard: mustard seeds, vinegar, wine, water and salt (with a touch of citric acid). No additives, fillers or chemicals.
    Also, Trader Joe's is the only place in town where I can buy decent French wines under 8.00 dollars a bottle like a Valreas a very good Côtes du Rhône Villages at $5.99, Ferme Julien a good Côtes du Ventoux, red or rosé, for $ 5,99, Château Matalin, a quite drinkable but nos as good Bordeaux as the Chateau du Buisson that they unfortunately discontinued a couple of months ago, that is blended by the same old company from Bordeaux(Ginestet) for $5.99, and good little Morgon (one of the crus du Beaujolais) for $5.99. I also found a quite decent Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2008, sold under the name of Villa Cerrina, perfect with pasta or pizza, for the bargain price of $ 4.99.
    In spite of my total allergy to Shaw`s wines, I have to admit that I have been using their Sauvignon blanc and their new Australian chardonnay, for cooking stews ( chicken, lamb, veal, rabbit. etc) many times without adverse results to the dishes
  • Post #157 - June 26th, 2010, 9:08 am
    Post #157 - June 26th, 2010, 9:08 am Post #157 - June 26th, 2010, 9:08 am
    Trader Joe Theory states that: Items purchased at Trader Joe's are either surprisingly repulsive or unexpectedly delectable; leaving no middle ground for mediocrity.

    Either way, you can't argue with the prices; yet some of us avoid it at all costs. So after years of research (beginning in Brookline, MA), I think it is time to start sharing my data.

    Hits:
    Frozen Thai Vegetable Gyoza - Green bag w/ picture of gyozas. Uses all natural simple ingredients; cabbage base w/ ginger, scallions, garlic, etc. Perfect vehicle for sriracha and soy sauce. Must follow exact cooking directions, or it quickly turns into a "miss".

    Black Olive Tapenade - Stout jar w/ black label. Better than I've had in restaurants. Perfect with...

    Pretzel Slims - Red bag w/ picture of slims. Nice crunch and authentic pretzel flavor; which many other slims fail to preserve. Dip in Black Olive Tapenade. Warning: Must love salt...and beer...that helps too.

    Red Oval Beer - Canned six-pack w/ a designed ripped off from Red Stripe. Perfectly simple lager when one needs a break from IPA or Belgian. $2.99.

    Frozen Garlic Naan - Green bag w/ picture of naan. The best take-home naan I've ever had, and better than many restaurants (this coming from a half-indian). Takes about three minutes in a pre-heated oven; finish it on grill or open stove burner for authentic clay oven char. Perfect with...

    Frozen Channa Masala - Blue-gray box w/ picture of chickpea masala. Better than most Indian buffet masalas. Simple, authentic recipe. This can be microwaved or oven-heated, but I prefer to prepare it in a non-stick pan to concentrate the flavors; also add a pinch of salt.

    TJ's Organic Creamy/Chunky Peanut Butter - Green lid. Valencia peanuts, straight and to the point. Perfect with...

    TJ's Raspberry/Strawberry Preserves - Fruit, sugar, pectin. Fruit retains bright freshness through preservation process.

    Ducktrap River Smoked Trout - Red package; the same you find at Dominick's or Whole Foods, but much more affordable. $6-$7 depending on the weight. The same prepackaged fish will cost you $10-$12 at the other stores.

    Fage Greek Yogurt - Stout white tub; the same you find at Dominick's or Whole Foods, but much more affordable. $1.79 for the smaller tub, $4.19 for the bigger one.

    Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola(cereal) - Greenish-yellow box. At $2.39 much cheaper than the other guys. If you have never had this product, it is a MUST.

    Coffee- Many different whole bean selections; haven't gone wrong yet.

    Misses:

    Vegetable Jaipuri - Blue box, not frozen. Better to go to a market on Devon for stuff like this.

    Frozen Thai Green Curry Bowl - Green package; gross.

    Pastas - I've tried many, but have always been disappointed. For pantry pasta, I stick to Barilla or Barilla Plus.

    Pre-breaded frozen fish - I was in college at the time.

    Two Buck Chuck - see above.

    Bread - I have not found a bread I like. Some things are worth spending twice as much for. Note: They do have brioche burger rolls, but I have not had then yet.



    That's it off the top of my head, but let me know what has and hasn't worked for you. I think it would be great to get a long list of hits and misses to discover new items, avoid others...and maybe convert some TJ non-believers.
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #158 - June 26th, 2010, 9:26 am
    Post #158 - June 26th, 2010, 9:26 am Post #158 - June 26th, 2010, 9:26 am
    ...let me know what has and hasn't worked for you. I think it would be great to get a long list of hits and misses to discover new items, avoid others...and maybe convert some TJ non-believers.



    yes, it was a good idea. . . :)
  • Post #159 - June 26th, 2010, 9:34 am
    Post #159 - June 26th, 2010, 9:34 am Post #159 - June 26th, 2010, 9:34 am
    Oh sweet. I searched, but missed that somehow. Please feel free to merge. :)
    "We eat slowly and with gusto." - Paul Bäumer in AQOTWF
  • Post #160 - June 29th, 2010, 2:03 pm
    Post #160 - June 29th, 2010, 2:03 pm Post #160 - June 29th, 2010, 2:03 pm
    Their organic ketchup is really damn good, I laughed when my brother told me this, but now I always buy it to have on hand.
  • Post #161 - June 29th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    Post #161 - June 29th, 2010, 3:12 pm Post #161 - June 29th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    i agree that their frozen garlic naan and pretzel slims are excellent. also, they have Societe Roquefort blue cheese, which i really like, and i at one point i was really into their wasabi mayo.
  • Post #162 - July 28th, 2010, 12:31 pm
    Post #162 - July 28th, 2010, 12:31 pm Post #162 - July 28th, 2010, 12:31 pm
    Theo Albrecht, Trader Joe's owner, dies

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postmo ... s-col-blog
  • Post #163 - July 28th, 2010, 6:24 pm
    Post #163 - July 28th, 2010, 6:24 pm Post #163 - July 28th, 2010, 6:24 pm
    seebee wrote: If you happen to find yourself in one, find the tubs of clear plastic cookies. I usually find them lined up in shelves along the top of the freezer cases. Triple Ginger Snaps. Try them. Another thing if you dig swet nut things: Honey Sesame Cashews in the whole dried fruit/nut section. I'll stand behind these products as being rock solid. Like i said, I'm no huge fan or anything. You can walk out of there with something decent with those two things- if you ever have to be in one again.


    The Triple Ginger Snaps are amazing. I used to like their vanilla wafers but they pale in comparison to the Triple (powdered, fresh and crystallized ginger) snaps. I've been making lots of fruit ice creams (recently strawberry-rhubarb and apricot) with the fruit I get from my CSA and the ginger snaps go great with them. I like TJ's for a few other things (ingredients for granola, Fage yogurt, garlic naan and the pound plus chocolate bar with almonds), too. But lately, the only think that can get me to brave the lot at the Lincoln/Grace store is the thought of those snaps...
  • Post #164 - July 28th, 2010, 8:30 pm
    Post #164 - July 28th, 2010, 8:30 pm Post #164 - July 28th, 2010, 8:30 pm
    thaiobsessed wrote: But lately, the only think that can get me to brave the lot at the Lincoln/Grace store is the thought of those snaps...


    Lots of parking on the nearby streets. No meters if you stay on LIncoln S. of Grace, or on Grace (or any of the side streets)
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #165 - July 28th, 2010, 9:05 pm
    Post #165 - July 28th, 2010, 9:05 pm Post #165 - July 28th, 2010, 9:05 pm
    I visited the Lincoln location last Monday at around three, expecting a light crowd, if any. Instead, I found myself doing battle with the Real Housewives of Roscoe Village and their tiny terrists. Is there any time of day or day of the week in which this TJs isn't insane?
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #166 - July 28th, 2010, 9:40 pm
    Post #166 - July 28th, 2010, 9:40 pm Post #166 - July 28th, 2010, 9:40 pm
    thaiobsessed wrote:
    seebee wrote: If you happen to find yourself in one, find the tubs of clear plastic cookies. I usually find them lined up in shelves along the top of the freezer cases. Triple Ginger Snaps. Try them. Another thing if you dig swet nut things: Honey Sesame Cashews in the whole dried fruit/nut section. I'll stand behind these products as being rock solid. Like i said, I'm no huge fan or anything. You can walk out of there with something decent with those two things- if you ever have to be in one again.


    The Triple Ginger Snaps are amazing. I used to like their vanilla wafers but they pale in comparison to the Triple (powdered, fresh and crystallized ginger) snaps. I've been making lots of fruit ice creams (recently strawberry-rhubarb and apricot) with the fruit I get from my CSA and the ginger snaps go great with them. I like TJ's for a few other things (ingredients for granola, Fage yogurt, garlic naan and the pound plus chocolate bar with almonds), too. But lately, the only think that can get me to brave the lot at the Lincoln/Grace store is the thought of those snaps...
    I concur - they look so unassuming, but they're so addictive. I've used them to make a crust on a key lime frozen tart, and it was phenomenal.
  • Post #167 - July 29th, 2010, 7:45 am
    Post #167 - July 29th, 2010, 7:45 am Post #167 - July 29th, 2010, 7:45 am
    Usually I shop at TJ's Lincoln around 10:30 AM between Tuesday and Thursday and it is much less crowded.
    The worst day is Sunday, and not only because of the difficulty to park but also because many items are missing from the shelves.
  • Post #168 - July 29th, 2010, 8:09 am
    Post #168 - July 29th, 2010, 8:09 am Post #168 - July 29th, 2010, 8:09 am
    Suzy Creamcheese wrote:I visited the Lincoln location last Monday at around three, expecting a light crowd, if any. Instead, I found myself doing battle with the Real Housewives of Roscoe Village and their tiny terrists. Is there any time of day or day of the week in which this TJs isn't insane?


    To defend my old neighborhood - there are very few Trader Joe's in the area. There is one in the Clybourn corridor. After Lincoln Ave, the next one moving north is in Glenview. So you weren't just battling the Real Housewives of Roscoe Village, but those from Rogers Park, Ravenswood, Lakeview, Edgewater, Lincoln Square, etc. Is Bloomingdale's crowded because of all of the people who live downtown? :)
  • Post #169 - July 29th, 2010, 8:32 am
    Post #169 - July 29th, 2010, 8:32 am Post #169 - July 29th, 2010, 8:32 am
    The Trader Joe's on Ontario actually tends to be fairly civilized and manageable, and there is free parking (with validation) for 90 minutes in the adjoining garage (entrance on Rush, I believe).

    One thing Trader Joe's has done (at least the one on Clybourn) to make the weekend shopping there more sane is removing the kids carts for Saturdays and Sundays. My boys love those things, but they really are an impediment to others during the busier times.
  • Post #170 - July 29th, 2010, 10:05 am
    Post #170 - July 29th, 2010, 10:05 am Post #170 - July 29th, 2010, 10:05 am
    Our local TJ's, which is said to be their top earning store in the country, is almost always a pleasant experience - easy to park, no long lines, etc. HOWEVER, on Sundays around noon it can be a zoo. Why? State law prohibits the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays.
  • Post #171 - July 29th, 2010, 5:38 pm
    Post #171 - July 29th, 2010, 5:38 pm Post #171 - July 29th, 2010, 5:38 pm
    Sweetbread wrote:Trader Joe Theory states that: Items purchased at Trader Joe's are either surprisingly repulsive or unexpectedly delectable; leaving no middle ground for mediocrity.

    Either way, you can't argue with the prices; yet some of us avoid it at all costs. So after years of research (beginning in Brookline, MA), I think it is time to start sharing my data.

    Hits:
    Frozen Garlic Naan - Green bag w/ picture of naan. The best take-home naan I've ever had, and better than many restaurants (this coming from a half-indian). Takes about three minutes in a pre-heated oven; finish it on grill or open stove burner for authentic clay oven char. Perfect with...


    Tried it today. Absolutely outstanding.
  • Post #172 - August 12th, 2010, 6:57 pm
    Post #172 - August 12th, 2010, 6:57 pm Post #172 - August 12th, 2010, 6:57 pm
    This week's trip yielded more of the usual stuff, plus a tub of the store brand vanilla ice cream. Holy crap. It's fantastic. Terrific flavor and a custard-like texture, just wonderful.

    Also, FYI: the delicious maple cream cookies are available at Aldi for about half the price of TJ's. Same thing, different package.
    As a mattra-fact, Pie Face, you are beginning to look almost human. - Barbara Bennett
  • Post #173 - August 12th, 2010, 7:57 pm
    Post #173 - August 12th, 2010, 7:57 pm Post #173 - August 12th, 2010, 7:57 pm
    +1 for the garlic naan. So quick, so tasty.

    I was bummed that my favorite TJ sweet, the soft, sugar-coated fruit jelly coins, seem to have disappeared from the Lincoln location. Instead, I tried the milk chocolate mini peanut butter cups to satisfy the sweet tooth. Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster did I enjoy those things. They got melty and soft sitting in the pantry, very addictive. Though they're obviously not good for me, I really appreciate that Trader Joes tends to put sensible, dare I say even generous, serving sizes on the house brand stuff. Something like 27 mini-cups in a serving, which is more than I would eat if I pulled it out for a snack, and certainly more than I would accumulate grabbing a few on boredom/procrastination-driven trips into the kitchen.
    "People sometimes attribute quotes to the wrong person"--Mark Twain
  • Post #174 - August 12th, 2010, 8:35 pm
    Post #174 - August 12th, 2010, 8:35 pm Post #174 - August 12th, 2010, 8:35 pm
    Suzy Creamcheese wrote:
    Also, FYI: the delicious maple cream cookies are available at Aldi for about half the price of TJ's. Same thing, different package.



    Is there a list somewhere of other items like this? Same products at both stores?
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #175 - August 12th, 2010, 8:37 pm
    Post #175 - August 12th, 2010, 8:37 pm Post #175 - August 12th, 2010, 8:37 pm
    skess wrote:I was bummed that my favorite TJ sweet, the soft, sugar-coated fruit jelly coins, seem to have disappeared from the Lincoln location. Instead, I tried the milk chocolate mini peanut butter cups to satisfy the sweet tooth. Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster did I enjoy those things. They got melty and soft sitting in the pantry, very addictive. Though they're obviously not good for me, I really appreciate that Trader Joes tends to put sensible, dare I say even generous, serving sizes on the house brand stuff. Something like 27 mini-cups in a serving, which is more than I would eat if I pulled it out for a snack, and certainly more than I would accumulate grabbing a few on boredom/procrastination-driven trips into the kitchen.

    Yeah, those mini-PB cups look really tempting. They're just begging to be put in a cookie.
  • Post #176 - August 13th, 2010, 7:06 am
    Post #176 - August 13th, 2010, 7:06 am Post #176 - August 13th, 2010, 7:06 am
    Add me to the mini-PB cups love. Great snack on their own or as an add in for other items. Last summer I added them to some homemade banana ice cream. Delicious!

    I typically shop the Lincoln TJs and find that it's not crowded if I get there within an hour of opening on the weekend.
  • Post #177 - August 24th, 2010, 8:27 am
    Post #177 - August 24th, 2010, 8:27 am Post #177 - August 24th, 2010, 8:27 am
    here's a link to an interesting story from fortune magaziine about trader joe's corporate secrecy and it's success. justjoan



    http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/co ... n.fortune/
  • Post #178 - May 7th, 2011, 2:16 pm
    Post #178 - May 7th, 2011, 2:16 pm Post #178 - May 7th, 2011, 2:16 pm
    Just walked back from the Trader Joe's on Diversey and Orchard that opened up yesterday. It's the biggest store in their system (according to the girl we asked; it immediately looked larger to me than the Lincoln Ave. store), but the hordes that were filling it made it clear that it is one of those "build it and they will come" situations.

    Stocked up on several items. Glad to have it in the neighborhood. (Along with a whole lot of other people, apparently!)
  • Post #179 - May 7th, 2011, 2:34 pm
    Post #179 - May 7th, 2011, 2:34 pm Post #179 - May 7th, 2011, 2:34 pm
    riddlemay wrote:Just walked back from the Trader Joe's on Diversey and Orchard that opened up yesterday. It's the biggest store in their system (according to the girl we asked; it immediately looked larger to me than the Lincoln Ave. store), but the hordes that were filling it made it clear that it is one of those "build it and they will come" situations.

    Stocked up on several items. Glad to have it in the neighborhood. (Along with a whole lot of other people, apparently!)


    I swung by today too and I thought they did a really nice job with this store. Wide aisles, well lit, fresh meat and produce (I didn't think all TJ's had that). Thankfully the Market Place looks to have some serious competition on their hands now. I was there around noon and had almost no wait to checkout...I thought they were handling the crowd nicely.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #180 - May 7th, 2011, 3:22 pm
    Post #180 - May 7th, 2011, 3:22 pm Post #180 - May 7th, 2011, 3:22 pm
    My neighbor next door is the new alderman here in the 45th Ward. There's talk of a new Trader Joe's for the Portage Park neighborhood over here on Irving Park Rd. between Laramie and Cicero.

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