Trader Joe's is opening in Albany. If it opens in April, I'll only have lived without one locally for 17 months, which isn't so bad.
My first TJ was in Bailey's Crossroads. Since then they've built one in Clarendon. Then we enjoyed having Bethesda nearby. Since we've moved to Albany we stop on Route 17 in NJ on our way home and shop in Paramus. We pack our frozen and fridge items together to keep cool for the next 2 hours home.
The news outlets were all atwitter, some folks are all about not caring, and a lot of people are promising not to go there because of the traffic. Some people (I'm included, but it's just a twinge of eh) wish it was in a different location. I'd like if it were built in an empty lot in my neighborhood, personally.
About the traffic: popular places are crowded. For proof, go to any Cheesecake Factory (mind = boggled, every time). I can't imagine parking and shopping at the Wolf Road Trader Joe's will be any less pleasant than the Pentagon City Costco. I can't imagine the line will be anything like the Union Square TJ before UWS opened (you'd walk in and start standing in line, picking up things from aisles as you waited and moved forward). But perspective is key in complain-y situations of all sorts, right? A long commute to work is better than not having a job? Ouch, how the diamond encrusted floors are ripping up my feet.
One thing I like about TJ is that it's small and it doesn't take me a long time to go from one side to the other when I've forgotten something--maybe I'm not the most organized shopper. I like that I know the products and know where to find them quickly; I can find my favorites and move on.
Nobody makes me go to Burger King or weird mall fake Chinese food places (or insert other stuff I wouldn't touch), so if you don't want to go to Trader Joe's, chances are you'll be safe from a kidnapping that locks you in there unwillingly. In fact, I hereby swear on my lemon pepper pappardelle (with olive oil, parmesan, and peas) that I will not personally force you to go to a store that "doesn't impress" you and that you think is "overhyped." I will definitely not pick you up on my way there.
Most of the items that I buy at Trader Joe's either only exist (to my knowledge) there or are less expensive there than other places. I'm also not much of a couponer. I don't like playing games, just give me the lowest price you can, consistently. I don't need Hannaford or Price Chopper almond butter for $10 when I can get it at TJ for $5. I don't need Amazon's glucosamine chondroitin (dog vitamin for joints) for $25 (or PetSmart's for $28) when it's $9.99 at TJ for 20 fewer tablets. Ten cents per tablet v. twenty cents per tablet. You don't have to be a hippie or obsessed with organic or have a food sensitivity to appreciate not being overcharged.
Today's haul included the following items:
Challah rolls, 4: $2.49
Reduced sugar organic strawberry preserves: $2.99
Brown rice pasta (they also had corn pasta, 3 shelves of gluten free in all):$1.99
Whole wheat organic pasta: $1.39
Israeli couscous: $1.99
Chocolate chips (pareve
Lemon pepper pappardelle: $1.99
Spinach and chive linguine: $1.99
Whole wheat Middle Eastern flatbread: $2.49
Dark chocolate covered cherries: $4.49
Garbanzo beans: $0.89
Tomato basil past sauce: $1.79
Glucosamine for pets (hips, joints--100 count, FYI on Amazon it's $25 for 120): $9.99
Steamed lentils (refrig section - love these in salads): $2.99
Beef cabernet pot roast: $12.58
Mild fresh salsa: $2.99
Roasted vegetable frozen pizza with no cheese: $4.29
Frozen brown rice packets (4 per box I think, 1 packet for dinner for 2 with leftovers): $2.99
Chicken drumettes: $3.79
Annie Chun's Udon Noodle Bowls (emergency lunch for work): $1.99
Clif Zbar: $0.69
Lastly, the people who work there are typically very friendly and helpful. They'll ring that bell and have someone get you a new marinating roast when the plastic was punctured on the one you chose. The bagging is exceptional--we used to bet in Virginia whether or not they'd be able to fit all our stuff in the bags we brought; otherwise we'd be going home with some future wrapping paper.
Obviously, I welcome Trader Joe's with open arms. I'd love to see Wegman's (a much different and much larger store) follow soon.