Dear Trader Joe’s,
All my adult life I wanted to be a Whole Foods person. I had a ridiculous paycheck from my law firm so nothing really stood in my way. Except one thing: Whole Foods bugs the crap out of me. It’s practically cliché to make fun of the prices: Yes, WF charges 8.99 per strawberry. Isn’t that sort of the point of WF? I could stomach the prices (mostly, but that’s probably just because I am a little loose when it comes to keeping my budget).
What I can’t stomach is the attitude at WF. I can’t handle the self-importance of the whole atmosphere. I don’t care how big my paycheck ever gets (assuming I get one again someday), I am just not the kind of person who feels at home in an establishment that sells 296 different kinds of artisanal cheeses. It ain’t me.
Enter: Trader Joe’s.
Goddamn, I love Trader Joe’s. During my first visit, I will admit I just didn’t get it. Where was the full produce section? Why was all the signage so cheeky? Where were the brands I know and love (like Cool Whip)? I kept trying. Soon there were products I really loved that I could only get at TJ’s: The raisin medley. The corn dogs (stop judging; it’s not becoming). The nut mixes. I was coming around.
Today, I love TJ’s for a bagillion reasons. I love the not-overwhelming floral department that has some very sturdy hydrangea plants. I love the chatty check-out staff. One time my Netflix movie fell out of my purse and the check out “team mate” spent the rest of our time together telling me about his favorite movies– all of which I had seen and had nothing to do with saving the Earth or composting. I am pretty sure TJ’s does random drug testing on its staff– to be sure they are all TAKING their drugs. Whatever they are taking, I want some.
As a parent (who is deluded enough to think you can or SHOULD shop with your children), you cannot possibly beat Trader Joe’s. They have those adorable little carts that Sadie can use to terrorize other surprisingly good-natured patrons. When a TJ’s produce person had the misfortune of getting his leg in the way of Sadie’s grocery cart, he just laughed and asked to see her license. I am pretty sure she drew blood. My former experiences shopping with my children at other markets, including WF, all ended in disaster (toppled displays of glass ginger beer bottles, biting into organic limes, thrown shoes on the salad bar(they were organic Crocs, though)). I had decided that I would rather starve to death or eat my young before ever stepping foot in a grocery store with Sadie ever again. Then, we had a pleasant experience at TJ’s.
Even the most bitchy TJ employee (the older blonde woman who stands at the register closest to the door at the Lakeview location) musters some appropriate chit chat for Sadie; occasionally she produces a sticker.
So, thank you for the alternative to the nasty, gigantic store that shares a parking lot with Chuck E. Cheese (which means not only is there no parking, but everyone who’s leaving a parking space is really pissed off about how their children behaved eating “pizza” with a gigantic rat). Thank you for sparing me the indignity of shopping at WF when I just flat out do not fit in there. And on a personal note, I am so grateful that you have full-sized deodorant that is not locked in a case; I can just grab whatever I want off the shelf. That’s what shoppers really want: FREEDOM.
Your greatest fan,