Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 42: Trader Joe's

When we moved to Sacto in 2004, we didn't know much about Trader Joe's and had certainly never shopped at TJ's, since they didn't exist in Madison at the time.  Now, TJ's has started to spread across the country, including locations on Monroe Street in Madison, by the Hanover Mall near Mom back east, and even in Austin for J & B (no more need for Mom to buy and send TJ's wet cat food to J!).

I don't remember exactly how or why we first decided to explore TJ's, but it probably had something to do with all of the buzz around "2-buck Chuck."  This moniker refers to the TJ's exclusive offering of Charles Shaw wine for $1.99, as seen in the display below:

We definitely went through our phase of trying all of the Charles Shaw varietals and of keeping our wine costs very low for awhile by drinking the 2-buck Chuck, but eventually our tastes began to change, and we just didn't enjoy this wine any longer, despite the super-low prices.  For a few years, we also got our bagels (sprouted wheat or seasonal pumpkin) and bread (also sprouted wheat) at TJ's.  But now we enjoy more bagel varieties at Noah's and can find similar bread at Safeway or CostCo, so our trips to TJ's have decreased to about once a month.

There are still some items that are worth the trip to TJ's, however: reduced fat smoked gouda, Kashi Go Lean high-protein cereal, Clif Bars, a variety of dried fruit, and $.99 greeting cards.  Some of these items we can't find anywhere else, and some are simply at the best price within the TJ's universe!  We also take advantage of some other TJ's treats from time to time, such as the ginger kitties cookies or the animal crackers.  And if we stay at the Doubletree Hotel Berkeley Marina to catch a series of the Red Sox at the Oakland A's, we always frequent the TJ's at Emeryville for game-time snacks and sometime lunch or dinner as well.

The only challenging part of shopping at our local TJ's is the rather cramped parking lot, which often spills cars in line out onto Folsom Blvd.  You can get a bit of an idea about the difficulties from this photo:

Fortunately, in the shopping center just to the left of the TJ's location, there is now a wonderful French bakery/restaurant called Les Baux, which sells authentic French baguettes as well as yummy scones and cookies.  So we cheat just a wee bit at times if the TJ's lot is full by parking near Les Baux and then hitting up both locations.  As long as we actually make a purchase at Les Baux, it's much more environmentally friendly to "park once" and do multiple errands, right?!


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