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traderjoes.jpgThanks to Fresh Direct online grocery, I hadn’t been in a supermarket in two years, and I wanted to see if I was missing anything. So I visited the new Trader Joe’s store in Manhattan today. And last week, I went to the Stew Leonard’s store in Westchester.
Disclosure: back in the 80s, when Stew Leonard Sr. was still running the show, I handled their PR, and (she said modestly) made them world-famous. That was when they were all about quality and pleasing the customer. While there are still a lot of nice things about the store, like the scores of cash registers that make waiting in line short, the vegetables were no better than the dreadful quality in a New York supermarket – no match for Fresh Direct. And the prices were as high or higher than Manhattan prices, which is pretty damn high. All in all, Stew’s was damn disappointing. (And, so much for attention to detail) there’s even a typo in their name on their home page. Can you find it?)
Even though it’s just a store, people have been waiting in line for up to three hours to get into Trader Joe’s. That’s why I went at 3:30 on a Wednesday. I walked right in, but had to wait in a block long line inside the store to check out. They moved me to the register in under 10 minutes, so I’m not complaining, even though that’s 10 minutes too long to wait in line to spend money.
Here’s what I found inside Trader Joe’s, besides a madhouse of activity:
– it was spotless (but all new stores are)
– the employees seemed happy to be there, even though they have to wear silly Hawaiian shirts
– the products are sophisticated, interesting, and cheap
– the produce was among the best I have seen anywhere
– the dark chocolate covered Espresso beans that I am eating as I type are amazing
– they play great rock music
– it was fun to shop there
– the prices were absolutely great
– it was like shopping at Stew Leonard’s was back in the day
I doubt I’ll be back to Trader Joe’s any time soon because Fresh Direct brings great food to my house and I can shop in my pajamas at 2 in the morning if I am so inclined, which I am.
But I sure wouldn’t want to be Whole Foods or Food Emporium now that Trader Joe’s has hit Manhattan.