Every time I post about a supermarket or a large retail space—and Best Market taking over the Food Emporium is just the latest example—people ardently wish that we had a Trader Joe’s around here. I’ve been a few times in California, and I’ve never understood the appeal. So I went to the one near Union Square, to see whether I’m missing something.
The place is certainly popular: At 10:30 a.m. on a weekday, checkout lines extended to the back of the store. But why?! I guess if you hate to cook, all those frozen entrées are convenient. Or if you like to cook but hate prep work, pre-chopped vegetables and pre-grated cheese are handy. Or maybe all that plastic-wrapped produce is preferable to worrying that someone fondled the Brussels sprouts before you bought them? Or maybe everything seems cheaper because so much of what’s sold there is white label, rebranded as Trader Joe’s? (Whether it’s cheaper or not, I have no idea.) Those of us who don’t get it—and I know there are others—would genuinely would like to know: What is it about Joe’s, as my late grandmother-in-law used to call it, that made you fall head over heels?
P.S. The charm of the wine store next door must be that it’s all inexpensive, so that you never feel like dirt for buying one of the cheaper bottles in a store with a wide variety of prices.
P.P.S. Maybe while we’re at it, you can explain Shake Shack, too.