I was born in Pasadena, California which was also the birthplace of Trader Joe’s market. I went to college in Pasadena in the mid-1970’s and often shopped at the first TJ’s. It was a good place to get some deals on staples and more exotic foods as well as some great finds in wine — though of course I was too young then to take advantage of that.

Later, after I had moved south, TJ’s opened a store that was walking distance from my apartment. They also started carrying some produce which reduced my need to visit a real grocery store. The advantage to me at that time was that I could walk in and pick up a random bottle or two of inexpensive wine, take it home and taste it, and if it was good I could drive back over and pick up a case before they sold out. They’d get some incredible bargains but once word got out that one of their specials was really good, they’d sell out before the end of the day.

Their produce selection improved, and the small, friendly stores were much less likely to trigger my agoraphobia than a conventional supermarket. After I had children, I developed a routine of visiting the store weekly and a lot of their more interesting fare became a regular part of our meal rotation. (TJ’s Organic Mayonnaise is the best commercial mayo I’ve found.)

Alas, while Trader Joe’s employees generally seem happier and friendlier than other store clerks, the company itself has engaged in some unsavory labor politics. We’re shopping there less, especially in the last few years when HA has taken over most of the grocery shopping. It’s a good thing, too, because…

There is no Trader Joe’s store on the island.

So I guess we’ll be stocking up on mayo before we pack our shipping container for the move.


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