By Anita Garner
Our little town is one of a string of small towns in this part of Northern California that together have finally come up with the magic formula to cause a Trader Joe’s to open nearby. That statement, of course, has nothing to do with the way these deals really happen. There was intense lobbying from both sides and parking studies and all kinds of rigmarole involved, but we TJ’s fans don’t care, just so the danged store opens as planned in August.
A friend of mine worked in development for a nearby city that pined for its own Trader Joe’s. The board she reported to kept asking her, “Can’t you get us a Trader Joe’s?” and since she’d tried many times, she knew the answer, which was “We don’t fit their expansion profile.”
Yet many in my community didn’t want the store, complained about what it will do to traffic patterns, etc. While checking online to find the actual opening date, I encountered a website loaded with comments for and against TJ’s coming to this area, with some commenters asking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just another grocery store.”
Answers are plentiful at a TJ’s fan site. Yes, here’s a grocery store with its own fan site, devoted solely to loving all things Trader Joe’s.
I don’t know why I feel the way I do about them. When I lived near one of the stores in Southern California, I wasn’t there every week, and it’s true they don’t always have the same things in stock trip after trip. If that’s what you require from your grocery store, you and TJ’s may not be a match.
A shopping trip to Trader’s is much more of a grab bag (awful wordplay – I apologize) where we make a list based on ads (their Fearless Flyer and their radio ads are fun) or our particular needs, and then end up wandering the aisles finding cleverly packaged, well-displayed stuff we never knew we wanted. Yes, it’s the way many grocery stores entice us, but with TJ’s distinctly, deceptively laid-back spirit.
While all the comments online about our new store aren’t positive, many of them express the same kind of odd loyalty I feel toward this company. Without blinders, with full knowledge that much of their success is in the marketing of their “brand” (and their store brands) still I have never been disappointed with their merchandise and certainly not with the entire shopping experience.
Parking? That’s another subject for another time. The opening of a Trader’s will turn a too-small lot into an exercise in patience.
But for now, I’m glad they’ve overcome all hurdles tossed at them and I’m happy the welcome mat is out. I’ll be in one of those cars looking for a parking spot.
Ó Anita Garner 2009