Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trader Joe's - THANK GOD

The very first North Carolina Trader Joe's opened last week in Cary - known around Raleigh as "Stepford", but that's another post. The important thing is, the new store is a ten-minute drive from my Raleigh house.

In California, we all take TJ's for granted. With the rock bottom prices on staples like milk, nuts and of course, wine; and the vast variety of specialty foods that can only be described as FUN - there's really no need to grocery shop anywhere else and the place is so COMFORTABLE. And the staff are all so happy and helpful (real salaries, profit participation and medical benefits will do that, funny, isn't it?).

I swear half the time I jump on the plane to go back to LA it's because I miss Trader Joe's. And I haven't bought cheese, which normally I live on, even once in Raleigh because after TJ's, the prices are just criminal.

So of course I went to TJ's on Saturday. It looked like the place had been hit by looters. The shelves were practically empty - but the register lines stretched to the back of the store. It was a 45-minute wait to check out, and you could barely move through the rivers of people in the aisles, but no one was complaining - the general mood was giddiness, if not sheer ecstasy.

Some of us have been waiting a long time for this. And others are catching on.

I talked to people in line who have been driving to DC (up to now the closest TJ's) to get their fix. Once people heard I'm from California, I became the expert from afar and had people coming up to me from all over the store asking for recommendations. I myself, absolutely NOT a foodie, bought almost $300 worth and half my favorite things were already out of stock. But the best thing was seeing all these people who had never been inside a Trader Joe's, wandering wide-eyed around the aisles like children on Christmas morning. Converts if I've ever seen it.

Yes, it was a good week in Raleigh. The times, they are a changin'.


billie said...

This is hilarious! A client just told me tonight about the new store and I nearly swooned with delight.

She said the exact same thing - empty shelves, cool employees, customers in total bliss.

Tomorrow is too cold to ride. It may be the perfect day to introduce my children to Trader Joe's. :))

I can't believe it's here.


(btw, we still need to have a writers' dinner out!)

Anonymous said...

Alex, I am SO JEALOUS! No TJ's in Nashville and boy do I miss it.


Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Billie, it really was hysterical. There was an eight-year old following his mother around saying - "But how can it all be so cheap?"

Tasha, you just tell me what you want and I'll bring it for you when I visit you and JT.

Anonymous said...

TJ is about 20 minutes from me - straight down I-40. I haven't been because I thought it'd be packed for the holidays. Although I gather it's pretty crowded all the time? Over 40 minutes in line? Yikes.

Is the attraction the amount of gourmet items? Hard to find items? I've heard about the cheap wine, LOL.


billie said...

okay, we're home from our first Trader Joe's venture in NORTH CAROLINA!

I had totally forgotten the bells!

My kids have never been to one, but boy did they fit right in. We waltzed out with a full cart's worth of goodies.

It is nowhere near my house, but thankfully, it's right on the way home from my office... :) and hopefully since I head home in the evenings I can miss the biggest crowds.

It was packed today as well. Pretty well-stocked though!

Feels like an early Christmas present.


Anonymous said...

Thank God is right! I can't believe it's been open since last month! In Santa Fe, it was the best food for the lowest prices. It was the ONLY grocery store I'd shop. My favorites were the imported cheeses, house wines, and the guacemoles(?). I've been begging D.C. TJ stores to tell Corporate about the hungry fans waiting in North Carolina. I'll be there tomorrow and every week after. A fan in Carrboro/Chapel