Trading Up – Trader Joe's

I love our neighborhood – great playgrounds, walking distance to West Roxbury town center, easy access to Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, Newton and Brookline, and a wide variety of grocery stores to choose from within a few miles – Roche Brothers, Shaw’s, Super Stop & Shop, Whole Foods

Trader Joe's, Reputation

Yet, I drive 15 minutes to Needham each week to shop at Trader Joe’s.

After our first daughter was born, our consumption of organic and natural foods increased exponentially and our grocery bill followed suit. One week, I decided to drive to Trader Joe’s instead of shopping at Whole Foods or Roche. My grocery bill was half, yes,  HALF, of what it usually was.

It had been a while since I’d shopped at a Trader Joe’s. I was impressed by their selection of fresh and frozen organic produce, innovative, healthy alternatives (like their rice, barley, spelt mix or their quinoa bread), and exceptional customer service. Also, they now sell many kinds of produce by the piece (instead of multiple pieces pre-packaged together), which I prefer because I like to thoroughly investigate my fruit before making a selection.

Trader Joe's, Reputation, Communications

But, as of a few years ago, there were still a few areas where TJ’s was lacking in terms of staples…I couldn’t get a 12 oz. can of diced tomatoes, American cheese (Food of the Gods for my two girls), and pancake mix, to name a few. I should have known I wouldn’t have to wait long. Trader Joe’s recently debuted Organic American Cheese, and it’s even in the orange color my kids love.  Their multi-grain pancake mix is delicious.

And, of course their customer service is bar none. One night, I was one of the last customers. The very friendly guys at the checkout counter asked me if I’d tried their new chocolate chip cookies. I hadn’t, so they opened a bag and gave me one. Delicious, of course. Then as they bagged my frozen pizzas, they asked me if I’d tried the mushroom tart. I hadn’t, so they threw in one of those for free. My kids get stickers every time we go, and if something’s not on the shelf, there’s always someone around to go in the back and get it for you.

How they fit all of those different kinds of food into one store a fraction of the size of other groceries is a mystery to me, but I can find everything there. Organic low-fat cream cheese? Check. Hormone-free meat? Check. Greek yogurt and chocolate chips (not to eat together)? Check.  I am addicted to the honey whole wheat pretzel sticks. And, anytime I have to buy a jar of organic apple sauce from another store, I cringe at the price.

Now, as we talk about moving, I have to check Google Maps to see how far the nearest Trader Joe’s will be.

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