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Old 04-06-2009, 06:30 PM   #61
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"Cult magic" is a good way to describe the Trader Joe's near me, NML! Every time I've shopped there, the checkout person has commented on what I'm buying (like, "Aren't these dried cherries wonderful? I buy them all the time."). Some people must like that, but I don't.

Worse, however, was last week at Whole Foods, when the checkout person picked up the bunch of dillweed I was buying and stuck his nose right into it to rapturously smell it and pronounce it the best ever. Thanks for ruining my dill, idiot.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:05 PM   #62
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Gator,
Wow. Your diet is so much healthier than anything I've ever heard of. For a few years, we had a nice vegetable garden going in the summer, until the deer destroyed it. We ate our fill of tomatoes, peppers, string beans, canteloupes, and the health benefits were very noticeable for that 2 month period. We'd like to do the farmer's market thing, but the closest one is 15-20 miles away.
Yeah, it's healthy, no doubt. Trust me, I have come a long way thanks to my wife's prodding. You could say I went kicking and screaming. I grew up in the South to very Southern parents and let's just say I was not raised on or even introduced to nearly any of this food I eat now. But there is no denying the health benefits I've gotten.

Yeah, 15-20 miles away is a far drive, but maybe you could combine that trip with some other errands. With the cost savings at the market you might easily make up the difference in gas. Anyway, good luck to you.
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:57 PM   #63
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I've only been to Trader Joe's in Boston while visiting my daughter but I'd love to have one around here . I've been to Wegmans a lot since they are near my daughter and my Moms former home but frankly I think Publix of Florida has it all over Wegmans .
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:03 PM   #64
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I've been to Wegmans a lot since they are near my daughter and my Moms former home but frankly I think Publix of Florida has it all over Wegmans .
FWIW, Publix was rated #3 overall.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:04 AM   #65
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"Trader Joe's is not that good. I swear that place must have cult magic going on. I should expect a knock at my door anytime now."

If you saw their paychecks, you sign up to join their cult. All the cashiers, the sign artist, and the sample servers are part time employees, but everyone - including the store's general manager - does every job in the store. Its a pretty lean operation, and no one is saddled 100% with the mind numbing tasks.

Why else are they happy?

-the average worker makes $20/hour
-everyone gets health and dental insurance
-the company kicks in 15.4% of salary to their 401(k)
-supervisors and managers receive bonuses
-assistant managers receive a total compensation of about $94k
-store managers receive a total compensation of about $132k

It is also a store in which both the customers and the employees tend to be nice, which is not the case in most grocery stores in my area. Its easier to be happy and cheerful when people are nice to you than when they treat you poorly (imagine how the average cashier feels after eight hours of rude customers).

The cult of Trader Joe's works both ways - workers are loyal and happy, and many customers almost exclusively shop there, as would my financee if I were not to gently reminder of the myriad of cheaper and better options for many competing products.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:38 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by randyman65 View Post
"Trader Joe's is not that good. I swear that place must have cult magic going on. I should expect a knock at my door anytime now."

If you saw their paychecks, you sign up to join their cult. All the cashiers, the sign artist, and the sample servers are part time employees, but everyone - including the store's general manager - does every job in the store. Its a pretty lean operation, and no one is saddled 100% with the mind numbing tasks.

Why else are they happy?

-the average worker makes $20/hour
-everyone gets health and dental insurance
-the company kicks in 15.4% of salary to their 401(k)
-supervisors and managers receive bonuses
-assistant managers receive a total compensation of about $94k
-store managers receive a total compensation of about $132k

It is also a store in which both the customers and the employees tend to be nice, which is not the case in most grocery stores in my area. Its easier to be happy and cheerful when people are nice to you than when they treat you poorly (imagine how the average cashier feels after eight hours of rude customers).

The cult of Trader Joe's works both ways - workers are loyal and happy, and many customers almost exclusively shop there, as would my financee if I were not to gently reminder of the myriad of cheaper and better options for many competing products.
I didn't know these things, but I have been a Trader Joe customer for about 10 years and I like it very much. I am sure I could get better prices at Costco, but I would have to drive down there, fight my way into and out of the parking lot, and buy enormous quantities that I have no place to store.

TJ's is an easy walk, and cheaper than anything else in my fairly well stored area, other than Chinese groceries which are a longer walk or a bus-ride.(They have no parking.)

I spent a short time in Bellevue, where there is a large Asian store (Uwajimaya) almost next door to a Trader Joe. Trader Joe was ordinarily cheaper, but Uwajimaya had a much larger selection of produce and fish and meats.

As far as customers being nice, I think that is likely more neighborhood dependent than store dependent.

ha
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:08 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by randyman65 View Post
"Trader Joe's is not that good. I swear that place must have cult magic going on. I should expect a knock at my door anytime now."

If you saw their paychecks, you sign up to join their cult. All the cashiers, the sign artist, and the sample servers are part time employees, but everyone - including the store's general manager - does every job in the store. Its a pretty lean operation, and no one is saddled 100% with the mind numbing tasks.

Why else are they happy?

-the average worker makes $20/hour
-everyone gets health and dental insurance
-the company kicks in 15.4% of salary to their 401(k)
-supervisors and managers receive bonuses
-assistant managers receive a total compensation of about $94k
-store managers receive a total compensation of about $132k

It is also a store in which both the customers and the employees tend to be nice, which is not the case in most grocery stores in my area. Its easier to be happy and cheerful when people are nice to you than when they treat you poorly (imagine how the average cashier feels after eight hours of rude customers).

The cult of Trader Joe's works both ways - workers are loyal and happy, and many customers almost exclusively shop there, as would my financee if I were not to gently reminder of the myriad of cheaper and better options for many competing products.

Their roasted red pepper and tomato soup is amazing.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:27 AM   #68
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Re On Trader Joes..
It's A yuppie place and best to succeed only in the Upper Middle Class and higher neighborhoods..Like all the other 'speicalty" places, they have the Loss Leaders to get you sucked into their place to buy the other things that cost more vs other stores..

Of course, Time and Cost have to be figured in.. if it's going to cost oyu more to buy at 2-3 different stores vs what you save? Why bother.. and that is what these kinds of stores capitalize on..

The old using Coupons at the stores offering the best quality has held up for us For decades.. If shopping at Stores like TJ's or whomever makes you Fell Better and you can justify it? More power to you..
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:00 PM   #69
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We started shopping at our local Trader Joe's when the big supermarkets in our area had an employee's strike and we decided not to cross the picket lines.

Whaddya know, the bread, milk and eggs at our local TJs are far less expensive than the comparable products at our local Albertson's or Vons. If I was going for cheapest food possible TJs wouldn't win, but we prefer natural and whole foods and TJs wins that situation hands-down around here. Also, we've found that organic products at TJ's often are LESS expensive than the non-organic products at our bigger supermarkets.

A final note: our TJ's is much smaller than the big supermarkets in our area, and they're constantly restocking food. One day I asked the store manager how quick their product turnover is and he told me that the store average is, right now, six days. So the whole inventory of the store gets turned over, on average, once a week. That's pretty good!

I'm not saying TJs is the only store to shop at, but we have found them to be a frugal option where many organic and whole foods are concerned.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:13 PM   #70
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The May issue of Consumer Reports rates 59 supermarkets in four categories: Service, Perishables, Price and Cleanliness.

Those scoring best on price were Trader Joe's, Costco, Market Basket, WinCo Foods, Aldi, and Sav-a-lot.

The overall score had Wegman's #1, Trader Joe #2, Costco #7, Super Target #20, Sam's Club #38, and Walmart Supercenters #56.
That walmart is almost last in the CR survey is no surprise, when you consider that "service" and "cleanliness" are two of the four evaluation points.

But those two points don't influence the actual products that I take home with me.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:20 PM   #71
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I went to TJ's last November when I was in Oregon visiting my daughter. What really impressed me was the variety of delicious-looking pre-prepared, or partly prepared, or microwavable foods. TJ's looked like a wonderful place for a working person to pick up a delicious, healthy, and interesting meal that doesn't require much work to prepare. (They also had a huge variety of other foods, of course.)

I didn't notice low prices, but then I was just there to gawk while my daughter picked up a few things.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:22 PM   #72
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That walmart is almost last in the CR survey is no surprise, when you consider that "service" and "cleanliness" are two of the four evaluation points.

But those two points don't influence the actual products that I take home with me.

I would prefer no one talked to me when I go shopping. Chatty checkout people make the whole process take longer Where do I apply for my grump card.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:30 PM   #73
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I would prefer no one talked to me when I go shopping. Chatty checkout people make the whole process take longer Where do I apply for my grump card.
It's in the mail!

Ha
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:37 PM   #74
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I've found TJ's to be good for certain things:

-nuts
-frozen meals, of limited variety but good price and quality
-frozen fish (the is very little "fresh" fish in most markets - mostly it is thawed frozen fish)
-A handful of other shelf items.

Its not so good for:

-doing all your shopping
-produce, dairy, and meat

That's in comparison to my other shopping options, but in a 20 minute radius of my house I have six grocery store chains, TJ's, Fairway Market, a Korean supermarket, BJ's, Whole Foods, Costco, Walmart, numerous bodega's, several italian pork stores, butchers, korean grocers, a German deli, fish markets, and a couple of independent gourmet-style markets. If I were in a less well-served market I would probably have a different opinion. But in my market, TJ's has a lot of stiff competition.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:44 PM   #75
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I would prefer no one talked to me when I go shopping. Chatty checkout people make the whole process take longer Where do I apply for my grump card.
Sounds like walmart is a good fit for you! There is the obligatory "how are you doing" when you first step up to the cashier, then a "have a nice day" when they hand you the receipt. Sometimes you get a "what you want?" greeting thrown in, but that's usually a disgruntled employee that realizes making $6.50 an hour is an insufficient wage rate for putting up with the typical walmart customer.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:51 PM   #76
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Trader Joe's sell many organic items not unlike Whole Foods but at much cheaper price tags but then they were selling their cookies/sweets that were made with partially hydrogenated oils... They are getting better now though...
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:52 PM   #77
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I've found TJ's to be good for certain things:

-nuts
-frozen meals, of limited variety but good price and quality
-frozen fish (the is very little "fresh" fish in most markets - mostly it is thawed frozen fish)
-A handful of other shelf items.
Interesting. I have a very limited set of items I get from TJ's:

-unique cheeses - havarti $5-6/lb, Brie - $4/lb, gouda/smoked gouda - $5/lb
-2 buck chuck ($3 here actually)
-"microbrewery" beer ($1 a bottle) - TJ's hefeweizen mostly
-hummus of different types - $1.79/lb
-frozen naan - $1.79 for 5 huge pieces
-edamame - $1.79 for a pound cooked in shell
-marinated artichokes - $1.99 for 12 oz
-occasionally prosciutto - god awful expensive - $10+/lb??
-scallops - 40-60ct - 1 lb-$6

That's pretty much it unless we try a different type of wine they have on sample, or buy something they have on "clearance" post-holiday (chocolate truffles and rum cake were this xmas's purchases) or other candy type stuff for gifts or personal consumption. Or if we just need to grab a thing or two while we are in there. Otherwise, everything else seems to be cheaper at the superwalmart. Interesting that everything we buy at TJ's is way cheaper and/or higher quality than walmart generally speaking.

We do the asian grocery store or mexican grocery store if we need something particularly ethnic (ie hard to find at american-oriented stores) and/or we need it cheap.
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:20 PM   #78
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We have been spending about $750 per month on food and other necessities from the grocery store. Family of 4. Does that sound high?
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:42 PM   #79
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Has anyone mentioned canned salmon or canned tuna? Per gram of protein, both are cheaper than egg whites, if you buy the store brands.

Do you drink the milk? If so, consider that milk is costly! Use it sparingly for the shakes or cereal.

Are you discarding all your yolks? There is a good deal of nutrition in a yolk, and not so bad for you if done in moderation. Or cook them up and serve to your pets....

Start a garden and grow high cost veggies (for me it's romaine, tomatoes, and brocolli).

Plain old oatmeal is high in protein and don't get no cheaper than that! Add nuts or raisins or cinnamon for flavor.

PS - your egg shells are great for compost.
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:13 PM   #80
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Interesting. I have a very limited set of items I get from TJ's:

-unique cheeses - havarti $5-6/lb, Brie - $4/lb, gouda/smoked gouda - $5/lb
-2 buck chuck ($3 here actually)
-"microbrewery" beer ($1 a bottle) - TJ's hefeweizen mostly
-hummus of different types - $1.79/lb
-frozen naan - $1.79 for 5 huge pieces
-edamame - $1.79 for a pound cooked in shell
-marinated artichokes - $1.99 for 12 oz
-occasionally prosciutto - god awful expensive - $10+/lb??
-scallops - 40-60ct - 1 lb-$6
Unfortunately, we live in the NE with their ridiculous blue laws, so we have no chance at getting 2 buck chuck or micro brews. However, I love TJ's for their cheeses, nuts and stuff you can't find elsewhere (like peapods).
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