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Trader Joe's

Privately owned & operated grocery store chain with 300 stores in 25 states, featuring upscale and organic fare

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Trader Joe's - A Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly Grocery Store

  • Feb 27, 2010
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I was first introduced to Trader Joe's when I was attending college in California, but it probably wasn't until I moved to New York that I realized how much I loved that little grocery store. When they opened their first store in Manhattan off of Union Square, it was clear they had severely underestimated how much value people placed on their brand and their products. With many Californians living in New York City the store is always bustling, and there are typically two long check out lines that wind throughout the store. It's not uncommon to wait in line for 15 or 20 minutes. It's likely the people responsible for opening that location kicked themselves for not going for a larger commercial space. They just had no idea.

Now that I am back on the West Coast again, my local Trader Joe's is again a sane destination. That said, it's still the same products and friendly customer service that I experienced first in California and last in New York.

As a lifelong vegetarian, and more recently as a vegan, it is vastly important that I am able to find products that are free of meat, dairy and eggs. Although Trader Joe's does cater to omnivores they pretty consistently cater to everyone else, too. This is so much the case that their website has downloadable .pdfs listing the products that are appropriate for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, fat free, low-sodium and kosher diets. They also have a list for those on the run and needing a quick meal.

While a typical Trader Joe's store is smaller than the average sized suburban grocery, they do have a large number and variety of products. Many of their products are extremely competitive in price compared to other grocery stores. One example product that we almost always choose to purchase at Trader Joe's instead of other stores is Soy Garden, a vegan butter alternative. It is typically $1 - $2 cheaper than if we were to purchase it elsewhere. They also sell non-food products like Dr. Bronner's castile soap. I always buy the 32 oz. sized bottle, and it is often close to $14 or $15/bottle. At Trader Joe's the same bottle will go for about $8 or $9.

Their bakery is also impressive. They carry a lot of artisan-type breads like sourdough boules, as well as rolls, hamburger buns and sweet breads like muffins. These are all usually reasonably priced around the $2 - $4 range. Not all breads are vegan, so be sure to read the labels for eggs or milk.

I don't normally purchase a lot of alcohol from Trader Joe's but even in just perusing that section of the store, it's obvious that they have a wide variety of low-priced, but decent quality wine and beer. They also sell their famously inexpensive Charles Shaw wine, a.k.a. "Two Buck Chuck" - which, obviously, goes for $2/bottle (in doing a little research on the internet I am seeing conflicting information about whether or not their Two Buck Chuck is vegan-friendly, however - some wineries use animal products in the filtration process).

All of that said, as another reviewer pointed out, their produce section is probably the most lacking and overpriced. Bananas have to be purchased not by the pound, but rather by the individual fruit which is often more expensive. I was also surprised recently that they were selling New York apples in Washington state. It would seem that they would attempt to sell local produce when available over shipping in the same product from across the country.

This is probably my only real gripe with them. Even though their products are high quality overall, they still do not focus as much as I would like on local products. This would probably make the most sense in their produce department, however there are many local packaged products (like spices, for example) that they could offer exclusively to specific regions of the country.

Overall I am a big fan of Trader Joe's, and recommend that if you have one near you to go check it out. You're likely to find yourself something that compliments your diet and your wallet.

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March 12, 2010
Oh how I miss Trader Joe's! I have lived in cities with and without them, and currently don't have one in my city. I'm crossing my fingers one is built here soon. They do make shopping easier for vegans and vegetarians.
March 10, 2010
oh yes! I love this place!
March 08, 2010
I like TJs a lot and I was surprised to hear from a cashier at ALDI's that they (ALDIs) were owned by a "a large German Company" same one that owned Trader Joes'.... I looked it up online.. Sadly, it is true the company is so big and good at "cheap" it drove Walmart out of Germany......... " Trader Joe's was founded by Joe Coulombe and is currently owned by a family trust set up by German businessman Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind the German supermarket chain Aldi. Theo  is curretly ranked the 9th richest man in the world." source Wall Street Journal.
I still like the store but the news made me sad.
February 28, 2010
I'm a Trader Joe's fan myself!  For many of the same reasons that you mentioned.  So much, in fact, that my friends call me a Trader Ho :P  Hmmmm, I dont know about Two Buck Chuck being vegan or not, but a little secret that I learned not too long ago about TJ's is that they always have some sort of booze expert on hand, kind of like a sommelier.  I use advantage of mine to pick up wine and beer pairings for food.  I bet they know about which wines are vegan friendly, too, so you could probably inquire during your next trip.  Great review, Samantha! :)
More Trader Joe's reviews
review by . December 13, 2008
Trader Joe's
As the headline states, yes, there's a reason why my friends call me a Trader Ho.  It's because, well, I am.  I'm a ho for Trader Joe's, and I'm not afraid to admit it (I'm also a Cost-Ho, but you can read about that in another review!).      First of all, I love how organized their store is and how they mostly only sell their own line of food products.  This takes the hassle out of having to compare different brands and prices.  Their foods are fresh, mostly …
review by . March 23, 2011
Let me just start by apologizing to all devout-Trader Joe's shoppers. I know, I've been there.      In fact, I started shopping there more than 20 years. Very friendly employees, fun & colorful packaging, easy to handle and perfect for bachelor/ettes & college students, loooow prices, and kitchy titles on self-branded items.      But my boyfriend & I no longer patron them. This is why: Processed foods from far away places (talk about 1500 …
review by . February 25, 2011
A great choice if you want food without a lot of crap in it but don't want to pay crazy prices. Also, great selection of fairly priced wines. Love the honey moon, velvet moon...any of the moons!
review by . August 01, 2008
Trader Joe's Baskets
Seriously though, it's like my little oasis.  A truly happy place.  My kid gets a balloon... I get amazing selection of what is basically a curated grocery experience, crazily low prices (without any coupons or weird club cards) and a wide array of healthy options -- from organic, to vegan, to just plain yummy.  Feels like that small neighborhood market my mom took us to as kids, when we lived in this little hippie enclave in the midwest.      It really comes …
review by . March 07, 2009
I'm a big fan of Trader Joe's grocery stores, although I can''t shop there exclusively because they don't have the, er, bad, unhealthy junk food I like. For example, Pepsi. Hey, a girl occasionally needs some Cool Ranch Doritos and Oreos in her life.     Mostly when I go I buy prepared and frozen dishes, because they are fantastic here. Trader Joe's doesn't stock much, if anything, that's not high quality food. (And by this I mean no high fructose corn syrup …
review by . August 05, 2010
One of the Best Grocers
   I don't have a Trader Joe's near me, and that is the only reason I don't give them 5 stars. It would be nice if they had an online store too.      Otherwise, I love their products and philosophy. Great tasting, wholesome food at affordable prices. Their Red Pepper (and Eggplant) spread (formerly Pinjur) is to die for. Trader Joe's gathers tasty treats from across the globe and puts them under one roof. Their stores and marketing have an old-timey …
Quick Tip by . February 28, 2011
Here in Louisville we are being told a Trader Joe's is coming soon. With all of the great things I've read about it on here I'm looking forward to it.
Quick Tip by . January 07, 2011
posted in Grist
Gotta love Trader's! Though it's always annoyingly congested inside this grocery store, I still go for the unique food products and cheap variety of wine. Their layout is convenient and easy to navigate (so helpful when you want to get in and out!) and I've always found their staff to be very friendly. A must-go for healthy food.
review by . November 25, 2009
Sunflower butter Wasabi peas Middle eastern hummus/falafel mix More soymilk variation than Safeway has toothpastes "Two buck chuck", or more importantly, a whole case of booze for $28 (yes, that's California CRV tax for you rather than my math) 19 cent bananas and $1.99 steamed beets Organic fruit in plastic boxes $1.99 grapefruit juice and $2.99 OJ "NOT FROM CONCENTRATE" Samples including pizza and fresh coffee, both in microscopically small servings A "Weightwatcher's …
Quick Tip by . July 23, 2010
Good for lots of neat wines, beers and spirits... their produce selection is poor and most of their other products are typically not local to the stores they are sold in and are typically pre prepared and frozen goods. Asian markets, farmer's markets, Raley's Bevmo and Cost Plus make this place look like a joke.
About the reviewer
Samantha ()
My name is Samantha andIwrite, a vegan food blog where I post recipes, how-to articles and advice for people who are considering incorporating vegan food into their diets. Ialso pride … more
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Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. As of December 2008, Trader Joe's has a total of 315 stores. Its stores are located most densely in Southern California, but the grocery company has locations in 24 other states and Washington, D.C. Trader Joe's was founded by Joe Coulombe and is currently owned by a family trust set up by German billionaire Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind the German supermarket chain Aldi. Trader Joe's stores usually have a South Seas (often seen as Hawaiian) theme.


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Food, Shopping, Trader Joes, Vegan, Organic, Health Food, Grocery Stores, Vegan Food Retailers, Wine Retailers, Gluten Free Retailers, Organic Food Retailers


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