I just got back from Trader Joe’s. As I type this, I am trying not to get tzatziki sauce on my keyboard. This would not be a notable event if I didn’t live in SALT LAKE CITY!!! That’s right, Trader Joe’s is finally here!
We experienced it all, the hawaiian shirts, the ringing bells, the friendly–though frazzled–staff. We stood in line for 5 minutes for a bite of their “famous” mandarin chicken (which I had never heard of). We got a free Trader Joe’s reusable shopping tote. As they gave them to everyone, I don’t know why they had to yell “free bag” with every check out. (It sounded like Cafe Rio in there!)
We arrived at noon, 4 hours after opening, and they were already out of some notable items, like the fabled peppermint Jo Jos. But overall I was impressed at the abundance and variety on the shelves.
There was no one as excited as I to be there. Trader Joe’s has an awesome product line. Their prices are pretty good, considering they specialize in organic and fair trade ingredients. They have a wide range of healthier alternatives to “mainstream” junk food. All products in the Trader Joe’s Label promise no GMOs, no added trans fat, no MSG, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Not too shabby these days! They also carefully label Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free items. No, not everything there is good for you. Not by a long shot. But if you are going to splurge, why not splurge on some dark chocolate pomegranate seeds or some sweet potato chips? And where else can you find roughly one million varieties of hummus?
I love the Trader Joe’s atmosphere. The cedar plank walls and raffia trim. The bright Hawaiian accents. Whoever this Trader Joe guy is, he has an impressive presence. You almost want to try bartering your first born at the checkstand (their dried fruit selection is worth it.)
As for attending the day opening, if you go wear your running shoes because you will need to be able to dart in and out of traffic…in the parking lot and in the store! Most people came expecting such and were courteous and patient. Some to a fault. One older gentleman who insisted on letting every lady with a kid in her cart go ahead of him will probably still be there tomorrow. I felt bad for one exasperated twenty something who yelled across the piles of produce to a friend “I had no idea what Trader Joe’s was, this is insane! Why are we here just for food?!” For the most part, you learned to navigate slowly, watch your peripheral for treasures to snag, and try not to hit any arms sporadically popping out in front of your face to grab a bottle of pasta sauce or organic dog food.
It was fun to see the mix of people at the “event” as well. The promise of organic pop culture brought some of Salt Lake’s snobbiest, while the hope of grand opening deals and healthy snacks enticed droves of mommy carts, the ones piled with the flailing arms of children, expeditiously maneuvering the mob before the good behavior melted. I had to laugh at the adults grumbling as they waited in line for a free sample of apple cider and a minuscule cookie with sprinkles. Oh I am sorry, did you not realize free samples attract kids in herds?
My favorite encounter happened outside, in the parking lot. As I navigated my brood through the frogger-like-scene, I saw a man loading a kid in a carseat (I couldn’t see the kid, just the designer carseat he was wrestling with). What caught my eye (I have mommy laser vision, you see) was the expensive pacifier on the ground by his tire. Have you ever lost a binky? Then you understand the precarious situation. I decided to be heroic and pick it up for him. “Excuse me, is this yours? It was in front of your car.” He looked up from his tangle of car straps and looked at me, then at the binky. An expression of disgust on his face he said, “No. My daughter is TWO and she has NEVER used one of THOSE” (as if I was holding a joint.) “Oh, sorry, I was just trying to be helpful.” At this point he saw the kids standing behind me–4 of my own and a extra friend–and said incredulously, “Whoa, are those kids all yours? Your uterus must be enormous.” “Yes sir, approximately the size of a warehouse. Have a nice day.” I walked off feeling just full of warm fuzzies.
Snotty encounter aside, it was a great day. I came home with some high class munchables to share at a party tonight, and some quality chocolate to stash in my treat drawer…the perfect remedy for an over-extended uterus.
I can’t wait to go back again…in a few weeks perhaps. And oh yeah, my sister can stop mailing me Trader Joe treats for Christmas. (Or not, you can’t have too many of those chocolate dipped cacao nibs!)