Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh My God Trader Joe’s

Back when I was doing the online diet thing and trying to eat healthier, one of the regular members of my Internet support group was forever posting comments about the fabulous deals on gorgeous foods she’d find at this “Trader Joe’s” place. She lived in California, and being in Minnesota, I had never heard of Trader Joe’s until that point. At the time, even Whole Foods was a new thing in my neighborhood, and although I love Whole Foods, they arent exactly known for being affordable. I was intrigued by the idea of a store that sells quality foods cheap.

Not long after that, a co-worker who had just moved here from California mentioned that he was having trouble finding a good, inexpensive bottle of wine. He asked me, “Isn’t there a Trader Joe’s around here?” When I told him that no, sadly, there is no such place in the Twin Cities, he looked, well, disgusted.

And then I found The Midwestgrrl, and discovered that they even have TJ’s in Cleveland. Cleveland! What are we here in Minneapolis, I wondered, some third-rate hicksville? Why not us? WHY NOT US??

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when, a few months ago, I read a little article in the local paper that said yes! Trader Joe’s is coming! The opening date was set for mid-April, and then mid-May, and finally, finally, 9:00 a.m. on May 15, 2006.

Twitching with anticipation, I e-mailed The Midwestgrrl, and pleaded, “Tell me what to buy!” She graciously provided me with a number of extremely helpful suggestions, including:

“Honey Sesame Sticks are the snack I once called ‘a new and conveniently legal form of crack.’ Awesome.”

But really, that only made it worse, all the having to wait.

I read online about the store that opened in Manhattan, and how there were brie en croute riots and several people were trampled. I made up my mind that I would definitely NOT go to the new Trader Joe’s on its opening day. You know, because of the children.

But then? Yesterday? I totally did.

The place was wall to wall people, but for the most part they were well-behaved. Some of them were almost giddy. I carried a hand basket, naively thinking that I was really just there to investigate, and maybe buy one or two little things to try. I picked up some whole wheat mini pitas and a bag of lightly salted roasted almonds, two jars of Indian simmering sauces and a jar of TJ’s brand hot sour soup, a bag of frozen mango chunks for the DemiGoddesses (who love them some mango), a package of “Multi-Seed Rice Crackers,” and for sure a bag of those honey sesame sticks (which, by the way, Midwestgrrl was totally correct about).

I nearly fell over dead when I saw the prices on their frozen fish, which are well below those at Whole Foods, but my hand basket had somehow become REALLY heavy, and I was starting to think that perhaps my eyes had gotten bigger than my budget.

But then? I really did fall over dead when the total bill for my two bags of groceries came to… $35. And that’s when I knew I had finally found retail nirvana.

The teriyaki chicken stir fry we had for dinner was delicious, and, in summary, I’d have to say that I found the whole experience absolutely worth all the hype and anticipation.

And also, I want to marry Trader Joe and have lots of his little organic babies.


Lin said...

Lamb cutlets (on the rack and usually frozen) from NZ...what a deal. Trail mix. Definitely the lightly salted almonds. Frozen berries. Organic milk. The Belgian light butter that comes in a tub like margarine. FAB. Zillions of other bits and pieces that are such fun discovering and new stuff all the time. Wait 'til you start receiving their Frequent Flyer advertising supplement telling you all the new crack they've got. Oh the joy that awaits you. And my final two words...GREEK YOGHURT (from Greece). The non-fat stuff is a great sub for sour cream or a great way to end the day with a little honey and fruit mixed in. The full-fat stuff is how you spell heaven.

Melissa said...

I'm from Los ANgeles, so I don't remember a time without Trader Joes. You'll love it. They have great things around the holidays too. Also, and this is a joy, they have these dark chocolate covered caramels which are heaven in a plastic box. Try them. I promise you'll love them.

Batgirl said...

*hugging self with glee*

trebs said...

I've been raving about TJ's for years (living in LA) and telling my best friend in Iowa to not leave her University of Chicago MBA weekends without purposely stopping at one of their 3 locations there on the way home! Have you picked up the ready-made pizza dough for home? Yum! :)

Angelica said...

Oh G-D I am so happy for you!! Seriously! Here in the D.C. area I think we have about four or five TJ's and three within a five or six mile radius for me. I rarely shop anywhere else. Just wait until you get to the paper towels, tissues, laundry detergent and stain remover. You will totally be in heaven. I was just there on Tuesday and thinking to myself, "What a wonderful place this is, I can just walk over here and spend 50$ on what I would spend 100$ at Giant (our big-brand, crappy retail chain).

OH YAY, I am so happy for you!!

Don't forget to try the Triple Chocolate Cookies. They are very much worth breaking a diet over.

sabrina said...

It is truly the best place on earth and one of the few California things this California girl will rave about.

(Oh - I'm a friend of Shanna's if you are wondering who the random stranger is.)

Sarah B. said...

What a great descriptive post about a TJs opening! Loved it and love the comments. Check out my new blog about www.traderjoesreviews.com where I review their food.