Adventures, Life Abroad, Photos, San Francisco, Writing
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Post #45: I Love Trader Joe’s!

Post #45: I Love Trader Joe’s!

Where the American and I live in San Francisco, it’s much easier to buy a Coach handbag than it is to buy groceries. And in most of the cities we have lived in, we’ve lived downtown. Buying groceries was never a problem, because there were plenty of supermarkets in the downtown area to supply the urban crowd. Even in provincial Ireland. But that’s not the case in San Francisco, and is the biggest drawback to living where we do.

Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe’s!

[Source: Trader Joe’s]

Most of our shopping is done at the local Walgreen’s or independent markets/corner shops. We have a mini-Safeway about a mile down the hill, and had a ridiculously expensive independent supermarket about ten blocks away up the hill until recently. Cala Foods closed for good over the New Year period, and in June, Trader Joe’s will be opening up in its place. HURRAH!

In the hierarchy of local supermarkets in the Bay Area, I’d rate Trader Joe’s well above average. Some say it’s very yuppie, but it’s no Whole Foods. Shopping at Whole Foods is a beautiful, insanely expensive but quintessential Northern California experience. Much like this:

Some say there are two types of people in the world: those who prefer Trader Joe’s, and those who don’t. I fall into the former, and I love Trader Joe’s with a fiery passion. And no, I’m not being paid for this.

The company has a sense of humour:
They use a bell to communicate instead of a PA system.
They change their labels according to the nationality of food they’re selling: for example, tortillas sport the Trader Jose label, edamame have the Trader Joe-San one, and french soaps are Trader Jacques.

The staff at Trader Joe’s are encouraged to show their personality, so it’s not unusual to see staff singing to themselves as they restock the shelves. They wear Hawaiian shirts and jeans, and are easy-going and friendly. But not that crazy American-fake-friendly. It seems real and makes a world of difference to my experience.

What the average Trader Joe's store looks like

What the average Trader Joe’s store looks like

[Source: Wikipedia]

But I’m certainly not the first to profess my love for the supermarket chain. Trader Joe’s Fan is a hub for those like me to explore and share the recipes and the like, there’s a Flikr group, ‘Trader Joe’s Love!‘, for pics of anything TJ related, and one bloke loves Trader Joe’s so much that he wrote a song about them.

So here’s eight reasons why I love Trader Joe’s:

  1. They have great quality, healthy food at reasonable prices.
  2. They are committed to offering a broad range of organic food, and to never sell anything made with genetically modified produce.
  3. They have exclusive lines: you can only buy Trader Joe’s food at Trader Joe’s stores.
  4. They sell good wine for $2. That’s right: $2! Some of the Two Buck Chuck varieties have won medals and they sell for TWO DOLLARS. The Australians will understand why this is significant.
  5. They really cater to vegetarians, and offer plenty of products that I can eat. Plus, they carry a bunch of things that are you can’t find at regular supermarkets like Safeway, like couscous, quinoa and polenta.
  6. The stores a much smaller than your average Safeway. They’re easy to navigate and well-lit.
  7. They have a permanent sample station in every store, offering samples of fresh coffee and food. It’s a real highlight.
  8. I love their selection of frozen fruit and joghurt. We make some of the most righteous fruit shakes outside of Thailand with three ingredients.
    Charles Shaw: Two Buck Chuck.

    Charles Shaw: Two Buck Chuck.

    [Source: Colorado Daily]

Do you love Trader Joe’s, too? Or something similar?

You can read more about the man behind Trader Joe’s here, and more about the store here


Welcome to the forty-fifth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. I am a regular at Trader Joe’s. Wine, cheese, frozen fish, tortillas, almonds are things that are always on my TJ list!

  2. I definitely think TJ’s is a much better option than Safeway, my only complaint is that they don’t have the freshest of produce. That’s really been a problem for me. So I’ve started going to local produce markets that offer cheaper and fresher fruits and vegetables. But then I’ll go to Trader Joe’s for everything else. Glad it’s opening there though…finally!

    • I will concede that. We have a good market across the road for basic fruits and veges, So we tend to buy everything from there (and it doesn’t get sqwished like it would if we walked it home from TJs at Fisherman’s Wharf).

      I hope to have good looking lunches like yours very soon! 🙂

  3. Yay they’re finally opening there! My only complaint is that TJ’s doesn’t always have the freshest produce, so I go elsewhere for that.

  4. You left off those chocolate covered potato chips. And they have free range local eggs which for some mystical reason the other supermarkets don’t have here. But mainly the chips.

    • I haven’t tried those, but chocolate AND chips together? Yum! Will grab some next time for “research purposes”.
      I am addicted to the sweet and salty popcorn that comes in the pink and white stripe bags. It’s tasty on so many levels.

  5. Pingback: Three Things | The Rebecca Project

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