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Trying to Understand The Hype – Trader Joes’

I had an opportunity to do some research and find out for myself about Trader Joe’s. For those that don’t know, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store located on Route 73 near the old Marlton Circle. I’ve heard a few comments about TJ from some people about the saving and the low prices.

I use Shop Rite as a base because my household does the majority of grocery shopping there. Previously, I’ve checked out Aldi’s and found that for the most part the prices there are less than those at Shop Rite.

Now, for me I find that there is extremely little difference between national name brands and regional brands and store brands. After all, I’m not a food-snob. Foods have to taste reasonably good. That said I have found that Skippy brand peanut butter has a slightly sweeter taste than any other. But this is minor and peanut butter is peanut butter. Whole wheat bread is whole wheat bread, I’ve never been able to taste that much of a difference between the different brands.

So, now back to Trader Joe’s. Right from the git-go I saw that almost all of the brands were store brands (Trader Joe’s). I didn’t notice any national brands (like at Shop Rite) or regional brands (like at Aldi’s). The other thing I noticed was the diverse selection of items that I never saw at any other grocery store. Specifically, in that I mentioned peanut butter before, Trader Joe carries, in addition to 2 varieties of peanut butter (saled and unsalted), almond butter plus others made from different variety of nuts.

The last thing, and the most important, was price. Some prices were higher than Shop Rite (store brand PB is $1.88 for 16 oz jar) while Trader Joe brand is about $2.29 for a 16 oz jar. Aldi charges $1.67 for the same size in a regional brand. Shop Rite prices their store brand eggs at $1.99 for large size and Trader Joe has them for $0.99 for large size.

Conclusion is that Trader Joe’s is not as large as a Shop Rite but larger than Aldi, the price difference between Trader Joe’s items and Shop Rite’s does not warrant the drive of the extra distance to Marlton. The money saved would be negligible. Aldi’s, on the other hand, is worth the extra few minutes drive. As long as you don’t mind not having national brands to choose from, no deli or bakery, and smaller store.