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Trader Joe's

A Trader Joe’s recently opened in the town where I do most of my shopping — Winston-Salem. It’s in the space where a Borders bookstore used to be, and it’s less than a mile from Whole Foods.

I had not been to a Trader Joe’s since I left California more than four years ago. In California, Trader Joe’s was often criticized by foodies for being the Walmart of the grocery business, and there is some truth to that. I did not have time on my first visit to check out lots of products in the store, but my first impression is that the produce was somewhat better than it used to be, and there may be a greater effort to avoid imports. Most of the produce had a “Product of the U.S.A.” label, but there seemed to be no effort to be more specific than that and list the state of origin.

To me, Trader Joe’s strength is in what I call “semi-perishables” — things like nuts, nut butters, cheese, condiments, wine, and so on. If Trader Joe’s has what you need, it will certainly save you money. I’ll confess that I even do some of my shopping at Walmart, if they have what I want and it saves me money. For example, Walmarts always have King Arthur flour (of which I use a lot), and it’s a dollar a bag less expensive at Walmart. I also buy organic soy milk at Walmart, because it’s cheaper there and they carry the Westsoy brand that isn’t flavored or sweetened.

I’ll continue to go to Whole Foods for some things, but Trader Joe’s is going to save me money.


  1. Uptown Jimmy wrote:

    We got our Trader Joe’s last year. Fantastic dried fruit and nuts section, best quality in town, worth the drive for that alone. And soy and rice milks.

    And our favorite cereal: Joe’s O’s. Real good.

    We got a Fresh Market last month. Haven’t been to one of those since my NC days. I recall it being pretty ritzy.

    Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  2. trailshome wrote:

    We love Trader Joe’s too, for reasonably priced wine, rice crackers and a few other delicious goodies. There is none anywhere near us, so we have to make a stock up expedition 3 or 4 times a year. I’m with you on the WalMart buys too. I don’t approve of their business model, but it’s smart to save money when we can, and buy the good products they carry. You can’t beat Cabot cheese at their prices.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  3. Trish wrote:

    I have never been to a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Walmart is the only option in my rural town but I do sometimes make the trip nearer to our large metropolis where the local chains are – we have a couple of nice ones. I detest Walmart, especially our local one which happens to draw from a large pool of welfare recipients. They plunder the store’s inventory on the first of the month, and for some reason many items are not restocked again for days or weeks. Their saving grace for me is that I can get Iams dog food there for my herd, and the 2# bricks of Cabot cheese for me. But the produce section in particular is revolting and uninspiring. Yuck. As if, I feel, this rather less prosperous, very rural community is not deserving of more.

    Whenever I go to the local Walmart I always think of Karl Marx – the employees look downtrodden and entirely unmotivated. No hope of advancement, better pay or health care. I have gotten there early on Saturday morning a few times and stumbled upon an employee pep rally with the manager leading the chant of ‘Be terrific, be be terrific”. My husband usually tries to drag me away before I make some derogatory comment.

    In contrast I am happy to say that at our local chains the workers do seem happier, and appear more industrious. The groceries of course are noticeably more expensive. A conundrum.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

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