Tag Archives: Grocery Stores

Trader Joes

The Trader Joe’s Chain
~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions as a 5 stars out of 5 ~

Manifested and created by the German grocery store chain Aldi – Trader Joe’s is the Americanized version of Aldi Markt or Aldi North. They tapped the American kitch and spirit of what middle class America wants with an affordable price that catches the budget. But it is different and quite unique, as it is driven by American culture, philosophy, and business practices.

I was first introduced to the shop when living in California the wee stages of Y2K. (year 2000 for the Generation X crowd) Back then, there wasn’t many stores around America. When I moved to Colorado in 2005, i was saddened there were none. It was at that time my favorite grocery store and I really appreciated the food quality, the pricing, and their business model. I can’t say I fully feel the same way today now that Trader Joe’s is in pretty much every state with locations everywhere. By 2015 they became a major grocery store competitor. By the beginning of 2018 they have over 480 stores in America expanding 43 states as well as the District of Columbia. With the growth comes sub-standard practices. They have become a bit more generic and similar to practices that regular grocery chains use. Their prices have increased substantially. Food quality is not so great and they over-use plastic and packaging contributing to the great trash problem on the planet.

Although birthed as its manifestation today being a branch of Aldi Markt (Aldi North) from Germany it was originally founded by Joseph “Joe” Coulombe in 1958 as the Pronto Market convenience store which mimicked 7-11 style and operation located in Los Angeles. He weaved the idea of the Trader Joe’s South Seas motif after vacationing in the Caribbean borrowing its Tiki kitch style as it was very popular motif in the 50’s and 60’s. It wasn’t until 1967 when it was called “Trader Joe’s” and appeared as such with one store on the Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California. He leased out space with local butchers to provide fresh meat, operated a sandwich shop within, offered fresh cut cheese and squeezed orange juice.

Trader Joes really didn’t become the genius idea it is today until being owned in 1979 by German entrepreneur Theo Albrecht who purchased the store from Joe as a personal investment for his family. By 1987 Joe was succeeded by John Shields as CEO who expanded the market into Arizona in 1993 and the Pacific Northwest by 1995. By 1996 they opened stores in the Boston area opening the East Coast market. By 2001 Dan Bane took over being CEO expanding to 156 stores within 15 American states. Theo died in 2010 passing the Trader Joe’s business on to his family becoming even more so the Americanized Aldi Markt.

The Good
Trader Joe’s has unique items, still good pricing, and matches the populous generation’s budgets. It is still one of the best stores in America. In 2016 Trader Joes made a goal to have all the eggs they sell in Western STates to come from cage-free suppliers by 2020, and all eggs nationally to be cage-free by 2025.

The Bad
With its growth has come sub-standard quality and practices, pushing out local markets and chains. While this is normal for any major growth of a company, their practices are beyond secretive. Reports have claimed at the majority of Trader Joe’s products are made on equipment that doesn’t separate out production for those of philosophical or health-concerned needs. The equipment is exposed to dairy, nuts, meat, and non-kosher foods. In 2017 they claimed to have invented the “puff dog” – a roll of spiced sausage meat wrapped in a puff pastry, but British and Commonwealth Media challenged their claim by stating this was already a traditional British savoury snack.

The Ugly
Trader Joes uses too much packaging causing it to be a plague on the environment. This has caused Trader Joes to rank low on Greenpeace’s sustainable seafood report card stating they have excessive packaging with even produce sealed in plastic and utilizing a business mode that forces consumers to buy large enough quantities to encourage waste. They have been known for their lack of transparency about their sources of their products.

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Aldi Grocery Stores

Aldi Grocery Stores (North and South)
~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

Aldi Grocery Store
* http://www.aldi.com/ *

One of my favorite affordable international grocery stores. I was first introduced to them in their home country of Germany by my good friend Vanessa and have been hooked on them through my international travels ever since. Affordable, simple, and economic. I’ve continued to enjoy them through my travels in Australia, Europe, England, and Ireland. Aldi is a chain made up of two groups – the “Aldi North” (Aldi Markt) that has its headquarters in Essen and “Aldi Sud” headquartered in Malheim an der Ruhr. They were started by Germany’s richest man, Karl Albrecht with his brother Theo (Germany’s 2nd richest man). They now have over 2,500 stores in western, northern, and eastern Germany, and Aldi Sud’s with 1,600 stores in western and southern Germany. Internationally, they can be found in Denmark, France, the Benelux countries, the Iberian peninsula and Poland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and Australia. In the United States; Aldi Nord is the parent company of Trader Joes. Trader Joe’s is simply the Americanized version of Aldi Nord. Aldi was started in 1913 as a small store in Essen by Karl and Theo’s mother. The sons apprenticed in the shop and took over a food shop formerly ran as the “cheapest food source”. After World War II, the brothers took their mother’s business and opened another retail outlet nearby and by 1950 had over 13 stores. Their idea was to subtract the legal maximum rebate of 3% before sale to give customers additional discount. They split the company into the North and South by 1960 when they disputed over the sale of cigarettes at the till. By 1962 they came up with the Aldi name and became separate legal entities in 1966. They expanded internationally in the 1970s. The brothers retired in 1993 and gave most of their wealth away to foundations. To cut costs, they are “no frills” and expect customers to be orderly, bring their own bags, and until recently only accepted cash. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Review by Leaf McGowan.

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West Side Bargain Mart (Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs)

Bargain Mart

* 3135 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs * 80909 * (719) 685-4500 *

Bargain Mart – one of my favorite discounted groceries hosts proudly adverts claiming they are the ‘lowest priced groceries in town’ – which they are unquestionably in this town, the most affordable bargains you can find. Its because they deal in the discounted grocery, closeouts, overstocks, and damaged freight goods. Here you can get most high brand salad dressings that usually cost you $3 a bottle, for a great deal of 2 dressings for a $1.25. Started up by John and Jean Fowler, it was taken over by Jim and Diane Krug to provide an alternative for west-side shoppers boasting having 70’s pricing scales. There are two others in the area – on the east side of the Springs and Manitou Springs – all different owners. Here you find a variety of foods – always a treasure trove of finds – always different, though some brand names can be seen there on a frequent basis. They carry the stuff that premiere and pricey grocery stores think they can’t sell – dented cans, surplus that might have torn labels or missing labels, improperly guled cereal boxes, inventory at King Soopers that someone opened up on the shelf to take a single item from, now making the set un-sellable there – all of these items go to a reclamation center to determine what should be boxed up for discount outlets like Bargain Mart, disposed of, or given to charities. Bargain Mart weeds through the surplus and won’t carry anything that is perishable which makes them different than alot of their competitors. They also have alot of organic and natural foods in their inventories.
I’ve found lots of Starbucks coffee, high-end teas such as Oregon Chai, A Taste of Thai, and other great finds. They also have electronics, household goods, and clothing in their offerings. I often get Vitamin Water, Propel, and Gatorade for 50 cents a bottle there. For the soda drinkers, you usually can get your can of coke or pepsi for 25 cents a can. Of course my most favorite grocery store – is Trader Joe’s, where you get perfectly packaged, brand new unique grocery stuff for comparable prices to Bargain Mart – but alas, there are no Trader Joes in the state of Colorado. Therefore my shopping plan is check first at Bargain Mart, write down on a list of what-can-wait for my Trader Joe trips to New Mexico I do every other month, and then its off to the Vitamin Cottage, King Soopers, or Safeway. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


Trader Joe’s (Queen Anne, Seattle, WA)

Trader Joes – Galer Street, Seattle, WA, USA
~Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

Trader Joe’s * 112 Galer Street, Seattle, WA 98119 * (206) 378-5536 * Website: http://www.traderjoes.com/locations/map/135.asp *
Trader Joes is my most favorite grocery store, though this location is not one of its better stores in the selection and space venue. Still, good enough for the fix I needed today. Trader Joes is a “Unique Grocery Store” with a unique selection of goods, groceries, and food stuffs from all over at very low prices. Originally a small outlet in California, it has quickly grown in popularity from coast-to-coast. When I live in a city where there is a Trader Joes, that’s the only place I shop. Rated: (storewide: 5 stars out of 5, this store: 4 out of 5) I of course grabbed some of my favorites for the camping venture this weekend: Vanilla soy milk, Chai, panang curry thai tuna, cashew butter, blackberry jelly, homemade wheat bread, macadamian carmel popcorn, the famous $2.95/bottle wines, and other munchies. Visited again on 7/5/09.

To Learn more: Visit our main page about the Trader Joe’s Chain.

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