By Elsa Stoff
In 1967, the first Trader Joe’s opened in Pasadena, California, and March 11, 2011, a new installment of the store opened in Shrewsbury. I was tentative to go at first, since I knew it was consistently crowded due to its sudden localization. I figured it’s still worth going out to the Westfield Trader Joe’s to avoid the crowds. I finally ended up stopping by to grab some fun dinner food on a Friday night right before closing, so the amount of shoppers were minimal.
Trader Joes leans more towards being a specialty food store rather than a conventional, commercial supermarket. Unlike Wegmans and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s specializes in a small variety of specialty foods and a few typical groceries by their own brand. You can find multiple types of dried cherries, yet the store lacks many typical commercial products. Also, you won’t find Costco sized products anywhere in the small store.
It’s stocked with interesting snacks and frozen fruits rather than fresh foods, and the prices always remain low. Most of their products are made by their own title name brand, which keeps the prices low. The lack of fresh products, such as one would find at a deli counter, also attributes to the low costs, since they’re spared the expenditure of the waste. The atmosphere in the store is defined by typical California friendliness, and the Hawaiian shirt employees don has become a staple of the store.
My issues with the new Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury boil down to its atmosphere. The store is much more open than the TJ’s in Westfield, Manhattan, or Brooklyn, giving it a less friendly feel. Yet this contrasts with reviewers who have never been to a TJ’s and think that the aisles are too small. Regarding the atmosphere, my conjecture is that they just haven’t had time to settle in yet.
On a more positive note, the employees were just as helpful. In my prior experiences, employees are always around and offering to search the storerooms for our favorite items, such as the Pillow Puffs, which are amazing pita snacks. I have heard similar stories occurring at the Shrewsbury TJ’s. The new location was well stocked and had all our favorite items. My parents’ main complaint was the lack of a liquor section in this particular store. They still can’t locally grab a bottle of Trader Joe’s famed Two Buck Chuck, yet this is rumored to change.
There are a few specific items I would recommend to pick up when shopping at Trader Joe’s. For example, the dried fruit and nuts are interesting, and they market an amazing trail mix with mini peanut butter cups, cashews, almonds, and dried cherries. It functions great as a plane snack. Above the frozen aisle, you will find an assortment of chocolates and cookies. My personal favorite chocolate is the dark chocolate covered edamame. Also, the windmill shaped almond cookies are a tasty snack. In general, the frozen foods are great, especially the frozen pizza and shrimp gyoza. An interesting and healthy snack is Quinoa. Their frozen Quinoa (a type of grain) is mixed with zucchini bits, and it’s easy to heat up.
Trader Joe’s is a market on the rise, and I foresee it following similar popularity trends as Whole Foods. All types of people who are willing to commit to organic food will start shopping at Trader Joe’s as they spread, including people bothered by higher prices of organic food than conventional food. The Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury is a great addition to our community.