On the not so bright side, Florida doesn't tend to lead in health trends, hip stores, or innovative products... but we do have the ability to create some *big time chain restaurants and are in the national news frequently (both of which might be considered a bad thing). Somehow along the way I had learned of Trader Joe's, so way back in September 2012 when a Trader Joe's opened in Sarasota (which is 50 plus miles south of us), we heard ALL about it. Apparently people were very excited and pledged to make frequent trips to the store. This is a grocery store people- with a 70 minute drive! I really didn't understand but when the time came to build a Trader Joe's here in Tampa (mere minutes from my home) I did get a wee bit excited I mean it has to be good since everyone is so stoked about it. Only 5 days after our newest TJ's opened, I decided to trudge through the traffic and crowded mess just to find out what all of the fuss was about. You see the things I do for you?
First this store is tiny so the amount of people was massive compared to the amount of space. I realize that this is part of their business plan and maybe it'll get better with time but I for one do not like crowds when shopping. It actually makes me spend less. (And this is one reason I do a lot of online shopping) Although I love it (hello I am a woman) I don't do tons of shopping so when I do I want to enjoy it; I do not want to be elbowed. Yes, this applies to grocery shopping as well. There are only 60 parking spots. Should it really be necessary for a grocery store to have a traffic cop? Ok how about 2? They had two! This seems excessive but on the bright side parking was relativity easy considering I had to drive past the store, make a u turn and wait in line to be allowed in the parking lot. All on a Wednesday afternoon.
Overall, Trader Joe's has a decent price for sprouted bread, bulk nuts, dairy products and organic produce. I don't know what I was expecting but I was surprised by how sparse the shelves were, the overwhelming TJ's brand items available and the lack of specialty items. They do have tons of frozen meals, processed foods and snacks galore. I now see why the general public loves this store so much. This store would really be good for someone who lives alone and doesn't cook or throwing a party cheaply/ last minute. This girl is a homemade, making things from scratch, pre-planning machine so I don't see much need for it.
UPDATE: After consuming all the items I bought, I will go back and get the wines, olive oil and the **chips from time to time but I am not on the Trader Joe's BANDWAGON. It was good but I didn't drink the cool-aid, just the wine.
* Your welcome <Outback/Carrabbas/Bonefish/Flemings/Roy's/IHOP/Applebee's/Olive Garden/Red Lobster/LongHorn Steackhouse/Bahama Breeze/Seasons 52/The Capital Grille/Benihana/Village Inn/Anthonys Coal Fire Pizza/Hooters/Shula's/TooJay's/Wendy's/Burger King/First Watch/Checkers/Smokey Bones/Pizza Fusion> lovers! (Just to name a few)
**Honestly, I wish I could just find Jackson's Honest Potato Chips locally.