Since getting back from Europe I’ve yet to adjust to the time difference, as usual. Depressingly I woke up at 5:30am this morning and after sitting in the dark drinking my coffee, petting my cats and catching up on a few days of missed television shows, I decided to be productive and do my grocery shopping early, so as not to fill my WHOLE weekend with chores. The first outpost of the national chain grocery store, Trader Joe’s opened up in Staten Island yesterday. Supposedly there were massive crowds and good amount of chaos surrounding the opening. After checking online, I saw that TJ’s opened their doors at 8am! So guess what? I got dressed and headed down, considering that I came home from my trip to an empty fridge, I really did need to pick up groceries anyway.
Trader Joe’s is a company that established itself in the late 1950’s originally under the name Pronto Markets and in 1967 founder Joe Coulombe expanded the chain, gave the employees their signature Hawaiian shirts and developed the concept for the TJ’s you see today. So what makes TJ’s different you ask? Basically TJ’s has established a system of cutting out the middle man, buying products directly from suppliers which allows the store to sell goods to us at lower prices.
The store on Staten Island is located at 2385 Richmond Avenue on a corner where there formerly was a car dealership. While the supermarket is not hugely large, there was ample parking both in front and behind the store.
Frozen falafel, chicken tikka masala, gourmet chicken meatballs, packages of stir fry vegetables, pre-chopped mirepoix, nuts in bulk, chili lime chicken burgers, individual vacuum sealed frozen seafood, if any of this indicates something to you it should be that Trader Joe’s is about convenience. Pre-prepared foods run the gamut here and it seems that the store ultimately is catering to a customer that is short on time! Not particularly known for its quality produce, I really skipped that section all together and explored the other parts of the store. Right off the bat, the cheese and dairy section impressed me, the frozen foods section was great.
Some items that were pretty low priced included the rice milk for $1.69, frozen shelled edamame for $1.50 a bag, various hummus spreads for $1.99, raw nuts $4.99 a pound, gourmet salsas for $2-3 a jar, bananas 19¢ a pound, frozen chopped herb cubes (BRILLIANT), 20 for $1.99, Greek yogurt 16oz for $1.99, Pine nuts 8oz for $8 and many more.
I came home with many of the above mentioned plus some chicken tenders in curry sauce, multi-grain pita chips, roasted wasabi seaweed snacks $1, freeze dried mango, Bite Sized Everything Crackers, TJ’s New Orleans Style Chicory Coffee, Creamy Toscano Cheese dusted with Cinnamon. I did NOT spot the two-buck chuck so no cheap wine for us Staten Island and the beer section seemed just okay, I’ve seen better micro-brew selections at Top Tomato down on Bay Street. The staff was very friendly, the check out process fast and the whole experience generally pain free! So far out of what I purchased and tried, the hummus was excellent, as were the pita chips and seaweed snacks (that might not be your thing though). I’m happy to see some new retailers on the Staten Island grocery scene and welcome the alternative. Go check it out when you get the chance and let me know what you think!