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Old 03-16-2008, 10:46 PM   #1
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I went to Trader Joe's today ...

and frankly, was underwhelmed. It was a 30-mile drive and the store was quite small. They had some interesting things - after reading the thread here on what people like to buy, I got a masala and a green Thai curry simmer sauce, some frozen garlic naan bread, and frozen orange chicken for when I don't feel like cooking.

The best find was Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for $11.99/lb. I'm not sure that's worth the 60-mile round trip, though. I found PR cheese at Amazon.com for $12.99/lb. for 2 lbs. and I wouldn't have to drive. I have a friend who goes up there once a month or so - maybe I can just give her a list

They had no lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Oh well.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:50 PM   #2
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Really? I'm sorry you were nearly disappointed ... I love TJ's and wish we had one. It's more than 100 miles for me, and believe me, I don't pass it up if I'm nearby. I just think it's a neat atmosphere. They have $2 wines (if you like vino), and just out of the ordinary things I don't see around here. I got 5 bags of bow tie pasta for 89 cents/lb, since that's my daughter's fave. It's $1.29 here. And I got a few boxes of organic chicken and veg broth for when I don't have time to make or thaw, which I thought were reasonable at $1.99.

I thought their convenience foods were interesting for those who are single or live on the go. Not for me, but what a great selection. The produce aisle even had a guac kit with avocados, tomato, garlic and a pepper. I thought that was ingenious, since some people actually think it comes already mashed up in a container, lol.
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Old 03-17-2008, 03:58 AM   #3
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I'm not all that impressed with Trader Joe's either. Like you said, there are some unusual items available, but I don't trust buying their dairy products any longer. On two separate occasions I experienced milk products souring long before a use by date. I don't believe they store/receive dairy products properly.

They do have great coffee beans, though...
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:55 AM   #4
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Our Trader Joes in the bay area are pretty big. I find all kinds of goodies and can't wait to stock up the kitchen when I move home in June! I got my parents hooked on shopping there too. You don't find everything you need so it's not the only store I shop at.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:20 AM   #5
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I am another "not impressed" Trader Joe's visitor.
The store was cramped, poorly arranged, and the
"deals" weren't that exciting.

But it was packed with well to do looking people, LOL!
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:00 AM   #6
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Hmm I really enjoy shopping at TJs.

I dont think it is great for all shopping but they have some products I enjoy at reasonable prices. If you have the time and inclination to do everything from scratch and/or do not really like ethnic tastes you will be dissapointed

here is what I like:

1 A good cheese selection at generally better prices than the supermarket or gourmet shops.

2 The prepared sauces marinades etc which are great for throwing together a tasty meal on work days when you are time constrained. I like thier Mole sauce and some of thier pestos as well as some of the spreads etc. You can find equivalents of many of these things in ethnic stores but TJs are more user friendly if you are not familiar with the product

3 Good selection of pasta and rice etc at better prices than the superparket

4 I like thier yoghurt and cereal also priced well

5 They make a good potato chip

6 Good selection of oils and vinegars at reasonable prices

7 Depending on your state laws good wine and beer selections at good price

Again I am not sure I would make a long out of the way trip to shop there but it is a store I enjoy shopping in and thier staff is alos usually mroe pleasant than the regular supermarket staff
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:57 AM   #7
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I have one near me but don't go there. I received a gift card to TJ's and had a hard time finding something to spend it on! Maybe it is just my store but the cheeses did not look appetizing although I did get a container of mascala. Most of the stuff looked interesting but I thought the prices were kind of high and the food was not what my family would be interested in eating. I think if you are into ethnic or haute cuisine it is a great place for you but if you are just an average everyday cook, not so much. My dad likes their beer and wine and doesn't have one where he lives so we go and pick up that for him when we are going to visit.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:03 AM   #8
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I have one near me but don't go there. I received a gift card to TJ's and had a hard time finding something to spend it on! Maybe it is just my store but the cheeses did not look appetizing although I did get a container of mascala. Most of the stuff looked interesting but I thought the prices were kind of high and the food was not what my family would be interested in eating. I think if you are into ethnic or haute cuisine it is a great place for you but if you are just an average everyday cook, not so much. My dad likes their beer and wine and doesn't have one where he lives so we go and pick up that for him when we are going to visit.
I'm pretty sure the one I went to *is* the one near you, jabbur On Jefferson, by the Newport News/Wmsburg Airport?

I do like ethnic foods, which is why I got the simmer sauces for an easy weeknight meal. They also had a sample of a three-cheese pasta sauce that DH liked, so we got a jar of that, and a bag of jasmine rice, since I'm working on improving my Thai cooking, especially curries. But it's a long way just for those kinds of items.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:06 AM   #9
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I see them more as a niche market concept versus an overall supermarket, but my impression is that the prices are better on organics than say, Whole Foods. But since I have neither at my daily disposal, I suppose it's all in what you have to compare it to. Little things excite me, so I am REALLY looking forward to my first Wegman's trip in September when I visit a friend.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
and frankly, was underwhelmed. It was a 30-mile drive and the store was quite small. They had some interesting things - after reading the thread here on what people like to buy, I got a masala and a green Thai curry simmer sauce, some frozen garlic naan bread, and frozen orange chicken for when I don't feel like cooking.

The best find was Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for $11.99/lb. I'm not sure that's worth the 60-mile round trip, though. I found PR cheese at Amazon.com for $12.99/lb. for 2 lbs. and I wouldn't have to drive. I have a friend who goes up there once a month or so - maybe I can just give her a list They had no lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves. Oh well.
I don't enjoy being the bearer of bad news but I've touted TJ's as being good in the past but not so good any more. People who get such a kick out of it couldn't have gone 30 years ago or even 20 years ago when it was really fun. Lots of things to taste, you didn't have to buy cheese or deli meats without first tasting, not so now. It's now a packaged place, much like any other place and personally although it's less than 4 miles from my house, a straight shot too, I go very infrequently. Plus, their prices were better when it first opened up 2 years ago, since then, they've slowly but surely inched up. No big savings there AFAIC............
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:32 AM   #11
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I also do not understand the attraction of TJ's.

I have found almost every one of their "signature" products (frozen, jarred, canned, entree, sauce, side dish, soup) to be very MEH, underseasoned, bland and boring.

Their cheese selection is ok; somewhat better than Stop and Shop but not as good as WF and not even in the same ballpark as the cheese store.

IMO their pasta is not that hot and Stop and Shop sells Barilla for $1 a box all the time.

Their meat and produce has been questionable at most of the stores I have been to. Baked goods usually pretty stale.

They have good greek yogurts and very good nuts. They sell some good cheap wines (though $2 stuff like Chuck isn't much to my liking).

Their grade B maple syrup used to be very cheap but not so much anymore.

They sell Cowboy charcoal pretty cheap.

Admittedly, I have been going to TJ's pretty often for my SIL, but really only buying wine ands nuts. Wine for me too, especially their VINO VERDE, a cheap fizzy white, but even with that the quality has been a bit spotty.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:49 AM   #12
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Sorry to hear it, GG. TJs & Whole Foods are close by. Bought a few items here & there, but not worth my while going to several stores when I can find most anything in the markets here... And nothing that blew my socks off. Much prefer going to a Farmers' Market.
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:12 PM   #13
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Post let them eat cake

one christmas eve , did a whole menu of "little bites" purchased all at tj

stuffed mushrooms, mini tacos, fried zuccine, fried cheese, etc. they were all frozen of course.

my family loved them.

i usually buy bread when i go there. don't get to go often, on other side of town.

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Old 03-17-2008, 03:41 PM   #14
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Of course, I don't have access to TJs anymore, since I moved south of the border. And I miss it! Great hand-formed flour tortillas, very reasonably priced nuts for baking, good flour, CHAI (can't get it here) and I love their thin sliced french ham. Super deals on good balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Wonderful kalamata olives. Sigh.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:41 AM   #15
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Hey, another Karen in a Spanish-speaking country. :) Hi! I miss TJs, too-- a lot. They have so many healthy and interesting items there. I always had a lot of fun shopping at TJs and trying a bit of everything. Great breads and cereals, lots of whole grain stuff. For me, that's a real treat as where I live now there's very little of that. :( Oh well.

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Old 03-18-2008, 06:29 AM   #16
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Im not crazy about TJ, Whole foods, or any of the big places like that. I often find myself going to many specialty stores instead like an Asian market , Indian Market, Italian Market, Vegetarian store... I find that these smaller, Non - chain, independently owned stores cater to my individual needs more than the bigger stores. Personally, I enjoy shopping for food, so I dont mind going to many different stores that I like. I still do go to some of the bigger stores, but prefer the smaller ones.

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Old 03-18-2008, 07:05 AM   #17
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Im not crazy about TJ, Whole foods, or any of the big places like that. I often find myself going to many specialty stores instead like an Asian market , Indian Market, Italian Market, Vegetarian store... I find that these smaller, Non - chain, independently owned stores cater to my individual needs more than the bigger stores. Personally, I enjoy shopping for food, so I dont mind going to many different stores that I like. I still do go to some of the bigger stores, but prefer the smaller ones.

larry
I wish I had more of those around. There is a Middle Eastern restaurant near my work that has a small market in it, and a Japanese grocery further away - they carry other Asian foods, too (I should check there for lemongrass or kaffir lime leaves). And then in the next town, there are some others, but that would be a fair drive. They're not close together, so it would be kind of a pain. But maybe I ought to check it out once a month or so.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:13 AM   #18
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YEah, for me its like a day out when i go shopping to my specialty stores. Im like a kid in a candy store. I still make my run through the TJ's and other larger markets, as they do have a nice variety of certain things. But when cooking something that requires ingredients that are more ethnic, like paneer cheese, curry leaves, lemon grass, and things like that, I always find myself relying on the smaller stores. I try to load up ( on the non perishable items) once a month or so. Being not too far from new york city, I do have a lot of stores like that locally. But I can imagine certain, less populated areas may have less available .
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:32 AM   #19
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Being not too far from new york city, I do have a lot of stores like that locally. But I can imagine certain, less populated areas may have less available .
You would not believe the difference. What is available in the ethnic neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn is not available to most people. Having moved to Philly from QNS I can't tell you how I miss the food shopping. I would love to be able to pick up Bulgarian Feta or Paneer or Irish Butter or whatever else right in my neighborhood. In Philly there is stuff available but it is definitley more of a mission.

Philly is still a big diverse city too I cant imagine the challenge of finding ingredients in less cosmopolitan places. things have changed alot now but when I lived in texas in the early 90's we had to drive some 90 miles to get fresh mozzarella!

Stores like Trader Joes help make a greater variety of foods and flavors accessible to many people who would not otherwise have access. I have noticed that the major supermarkets do carry a much greater variety of ethnic foods now than they used to though and I think this has alot to do with the competition from specialty markets
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:24 AM   #20
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Some of you are in very large metro areas and might not realize that those in remote areas are lucky to have access to fresh vegies at all within 45 miles (such is the case with my parents).
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