Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Why I hate Trader Joe’s

My wife wanted to know why I didn’t want to go do the Thanksgiving grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. I would be perfectly happy doing it at Ralphs — I adore Ralphs, and especially the colorful and valuable coupons they send me — but Trader Joe’s? No. Sorry.

“You don’t like the TJ food or the actual store?” she asked in a text.

No, it goes much deeper than that.

  1. The parking situation is irritating. Outside every Trader Joe’s you’ll find about 100 shopping carts — and 50 parking slips. This to me means that they are intentionally creating buzz by showing how in-demand it is. My theory is supported by the constant sight of cars circling in vain looking for a parking space. God help you if you get one because the circling cars get so excited by the prospect of being able to park that they reach a frenzy that practically guarantees a collision.
  2. Trader Joe’s is made for browsing. I don’t want to browse for food — organic dandruff-dusted sugar cookies from Krygystan is not what I came for. I want to get what I came for.
  3. But it’s hard to do that, because whatever I came for, it’s not there. Either it’s too normal to be found at a Trader Joe’s — unlike, say, “Creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah wine” (an actual product featured this week) — or, if you do find something you like, they’ve discontinued it by the next time you get there.
  4. Because their signage changes constantly in (non-) cute ways, it’s impossible to find things. This is especially challenging to someone with a lifelong problem finding things. (That would be me.)
  5. I don’t want to think that hard about groceries — I just want them — and I don’t need to feel smugly superior in the experience of getting them. So the whole scene at Trader Joe’s with shoppers who are delighted not to be one of the great unwashed willing to slum it out at Ralphs is not something I enjoy.

Other than that, I think it’s great.

4 Responses to “Why I hate Trader Joe’s”

  1. Kip Crosby Says:

    They’re irritating not only because their signage constantly changes. They’re irritating because THEY CONSTANTLY MOVE THINGS. If you have low vision, like me, you can take a lot of extra time finding something that…used to be right up there. I shop at TJ’s a lot, but not without complaining.

  2. Lee Wochner Says:

    The response to this post on Facebook has been illuminating. Clearly, I’m not the only person with strong feelings against Trader Joe’s.

  3. Dan Says:

    Another hint for Christmas? Okay, I’ve got you down for a decorative bolster pillow and a gift card at Trader Joe’s.

  4. Lee Wochner Says:

    Thanks! I’m always looking for things to regift.

Leave a Reply