The Trader Joe’s Mystique

Do you remember going to the grocery store when you were little? The long shelves of sugary cereal, the plethora of produce, chips, crackers, and cookies, fridges and freezers with Lunchables and too many ice cream flavors to count, and best of all, the bakery with cakes, donuts, and fresh baked bread. 

Now, going to the grocery store is another chore on our long lists of adult things we need to do to survive. The intrigue and joy of the grocery store is long gone, and in its place, a daunting task that takes too much time out of your busy schedule. Or, so I thought… 

Enter Trader Joe’s. You may be thinking that Trader Joe’s is just another chain of American grocery stores; however, I am here to tell you it is so much more than a place where you buy food. 

Before college, I had never shopped at a Trader Joe’s. I always thought it was a place for hipsters or millennials that only buy expensive vegan organic cage-free pickles. But now as an up-and-coming young adult, I decided to take the leap and buy my groceries at a place where the cashiers will apparently hit on you to make you buy more cucumber-durian hard seltzers. 

To my surprise, their products were more interesting than fancy. Of course, they had produce, bread, milk, and eggs, but looking beyond the basics, a variety of flavors and artisanal foods exists in this bohemian-esque environment where it seems that interior design is just as important as the food on the shelves. 

They have plenty of maple, cinnamon, and pumpkin flavors to satisfy even the most dedicated autumn enjoyer, snacks that made me nostalgic for my childhood, and flowers that would make any house into a home. 

After I finished my shopping, I made my way over to the checkout counters, where I intrinsically entered the line with the cutest cashier. I was interested in seeing if the flirtatious energy was real or made up by lonely singles who search for connections in the smallest of places. Immediately, the cashier asked my plans for the day, gave personal anecdotes, laughed at my jokes, and looked me dead in the eye and healed my soul with only their gaze. So, it’s safe to say the rumors are true: Trader Joe’s is a place teeming with unspoken words and extreme sensuality. Who knew grocery shopping could be sexy?

Lastly, the presumption that Trader Joe’s was expensive that I had cemented into my mind was quickly jack-hammered away. To my surprise, their products were affordable; I left with a week’s worth of groceries for under 30$! And while some frozen meals and chip bags would only feed one, there are sizable bags of veggies, frozen dumplings, and tubs of cookies, just to name a few.

However, I found myself lacking major necessities after my adventure. Condiments, spices, sauces, grains, and kitchen supplies always seemed to escape my mind when I entered that magical space. I knew of this tribulation: many before me have had to go real grocery shopping after only buying premade pastas and loaves of brioche. Regardless, I got things I couldn’t get anywhere else for a better price. And if anything, the experience made up for the trip I had to make into the Ralph’s next door. 

At the end of the day, I believe that the Trader Joe’s mystique is real. There is something about entering that store and exiting with pumpkin seeds, strawberry mango guava lemonade, eggs, and a new boyfriend that has brought back the magic of grocery shopping back into my life. So, I implore all of you broke young adults to rediscover the grocery store experience at Trader Joe’s.

Photo Via Raul Gonzales on Unsplash

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