Reader: Why do we consider Walmart trashy and Trader Joe's trendy?

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When Trader Joe's revealed that it would finally open a store in -- one of three now slated to open in the metro area in 2014 -- neighbors of the future TJ's site at East Eighth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard rejoiced. They were not nearly as excited when they heard that Walmart would be opening a store just a block away, on the former University of Colorado Health Sciences campus. And last October, in the face of increasing opposition, Walmart pulled out of that project.

Why do people love Trader Joe's and hate Walmart?

See also:
- Are Colorado's Trader Joe's opening in 2013 -- or 2014?
- Walmart pulls out of old CU campus site near new Trader Joe's
- Five reasons why Colorado will benefit from getting Trader Joe's -- finally

That's what Sherea wants to know:

I just love how we collectively *hate* WalMart but *love* Joe's... both bring us cheap goods and pay and promote their employees comparably... but Joe = trendy and the Mart = trashy ...don't think I'll ever understand the rampant hypocrisy.

How do you explain the difference between Walmart and Trader Joe's? Would you welcome a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood? A Walmart?



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85 comments
mdmachlin
mdmachlin

I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart for multiple reasons.

A. Quality: I've never had a problem with Wal-Marts dry goods or dairy products, but on more than one occassion I've purchased beef and chicken that smell old and are covered in fat on the side that is not visible.  The produce is of poor quality as well. 

B. Customer Service: While there are a few friendly faces at Wal-Mart I've encountered more disgruntled employees.  I guess I would be pissed off too if I barely made minimum wage and had to clock out early so I couldn't receive health insurance or benefits.

C. Customers: Why does Wal-Mart attract the biggest weirdos?  There is no reason to shop in your hair curlers and pjs.  And for goodness sakes: put on a bra and wear clothes that fit! I could handle the curlers, but I couldn't handle the creepy guys that kept approaching me in the parking lot.  I pay a little more to shop at Target because I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Vmack
Vmack

I am a family of four with an extremely low budget (about 50/wk) I want my family to start eating better quality of food but i'm not sure which store between Whole Foods or Trader Joes would fit my budget best.

mizzkathleen
mizzkathleen

How are they related at all!!!! I do not like Walmart because everything I buy there is cheap and breaks. Their food is only "cheap" because its smaller packaging and full of junk. Now it would make more sense if you were comparing Trader Joes to Natural Grocers or Whole Foods.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

Can you people be anymore full of yourselves? Based on the comments here I guess self-centered, better than everone else hipster losers shop at TJ. I guess I will have to see if a bunch of Walmart shoppers would like to go to TJ with me and bring a bit real america to it's yuppie paradise.

Cailin Catbird
Cailin Catbird

What? I don't even understand this ridiculous question. How are the two comparable in any way, shape, or form? One is a megastore that sells crap for cheap, undercutting local businesses, treating their workers like shit, and appealing to trashy people with no morals while the other is a small, natural foods store which cuts out the middle man to provide organic, healthy foods at reasonable prices. Are you drunk while you're writing this? I can't think of another explanation for the comparison.

jenniferantoniou
jenniferantoniou

um... last time I checked... did TJ lock their employees in the store and wouldn't let anyone leave? It could also have something to do with the "quality of the customers" that frequent the store? I've never felt scared for my life, or felt like I was about to be a witness to a store heist or be stabbed in TJ's. I found a person bathing in the sink in a walmart bathroom once in Idaho.  It could be the fact that TJ is committed to health and wellbeing and providing healthy meals for busy people. Spralmart promotes more foods that contain "High Fructose corn syrup" by comparison.

carrollwoman
carrollwoman

WalMart is a bad business model, as far as profits go they are great, but they wouldn't be able to post those profits if it weren't for the federal government subsidizing their business by picking up the slack for their employees. They don't give their employees a fair wage, they  don't give them full time hours or decent benefits.  WalMart is the face of the working poor.  Who would want that in their neighborhood.  People want good employers in their neighborhood.  There is a high price to pay for cheap merchandise and I think the general public is on to the fact that Walmart does more harm than good for the American economy. 

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

Trader Joes sells good food and wine at great prices...what is yuppy over-hyped about that? AND they treat and pay their employees well. What did I miss?

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

When I lived in VA, I went to Trader Joes ALL the time. I don't recall any "made in China" products and I checked!

Half Aspen
Half Aspen

They each sell Chinese-made junk.

Trent Long
Trent Long

Well, the argument is about 20 years old, but.. Wal-mart got so incredibly popular by moving in to small towns and then promising that they would only ever stock products made in the USA. Then, they reneged, started supplying inferior products at lower prices, and ran every mom and pop shop in the country out of business. That's why I hate them. Sort of a necessary evil these days, but I don't much care for it.

mightyacorn
mightyacorn

I love the people who comment about the clientele or about what cities certain stores belong in. 

Hey guess what... YOU are what's wrong with society. People like you who decide to judge people based on where they live and shop. For some people, every penny counts. Does it make them a bad person? No. Maybe goods might be crappier than you'd find at another store, but are they still edible? Can you pay your rent and bills and still manage to feed your family, even though it's not the highest of quality foods? I prefer to shop at a place that allows me to purchase enough food to feed my kids. I buy my clothes at thrift stores to save money, and even then, I shop when everything at the thrift store is 50% off.  I buy food wherever it is cheapest and as long as it is edible. I might have to dig to find the edible stuff, but it's cheapest and I need to feed my family. 

Am I a bad person? No. I have a bad situation and have been trying to make the best of it with what I have available to me. I work hard to make sure my life isn't like this forever. Part of that is shopping at Walmart for some items because they are cheapest, and living in Aurora in the cheapest apartment I could possibly find.  Do these things speak to my character? No. Do those of you judging others based on where they shop or where they live speak to your character? Yes. Yes, indeed.

Before you get all high and mighty about how this place doesn't pay their employees fairly. May I remind you that there are companies everywhere that pay people next to nothing. There's no shortage of people desperate for work. Companies pay as little as possible to fill these jobs. Some don't care about turnover. Most I've been with don't give a crap about their employees. Just meet their expectations and you'll keep your job.  I have yet to find an employer that doesn't fit into this mold. Judging one business for acting like every other business? That's just stupid. The entire system is jacked up. 

I don't blame one company for acting just like everyone else. I blame us as a society. We've taken a wrong turn and we've wandered so far off the road that I fear we will never get back to where we need to be, and we all wear blinders so that we aren't even learning from our journey.

 

Michael Beckerman
Michael Beckerman

The list of negatives relating to Wal-mart is a long as your arm, and everyone knows it. Wal-marts destroy the business environment in the communities they enter. They put countless small businesses under when they enter a community. They underpay their workers and intentionally under staff their stores. Their employees hate the company and hate their jobs. Wal-mart doesn't represent the best of American retail, it represents the absolute worst of it.

Fred Kaplan
Fred Kaplan

I wonder how many of the commentors have NEVER been in a Walmart? Its easy to bash something but when push comes to $$$$ they go with the $$$$. They will find all types of excuses for why they do what they do, but IF THEY truly believed in mom and pop shops there would be less Olive Gardens, Chipolte's, etc.

Leigh Dericks
Leigh Dericks

Wal-mart is more than trashy. It is detrimental to the neighborhood around it.

Mary Dowling
Mary Dowling

I consider Walmart to be practical and Traser Joes to be Yuppy over-hyped

adrotar623
adrotar623

Why is what a company pays their employees a determining factor in where you shop? The employees of walmart were not duped into taking that pay. They applied for a job that pays that wage, so be it. It's neither your or my place to question it or demean the employees that took that job for whatever reason by boldly announcing how terrible you think their company is. Many of the mom and pop stores that you all value so much under pay their employees, as well. 

dannybear70
dannybear70

While I would much rather pay the small Mom & Pop 2$ higher prices to keep neighborhood people true to their description, the one's Wal-Mart has made it their goal to STOMP-out, given the choice between TJ's and Wal-Mart, I would choose TJ's every time for a multitude of reasons:
1. Walmart is as good as plastics from China (no taste in their food, many products from China-why do the stores always smell like a third world plastic factory?),
2. TJ's promotes Non-GMO and organic foods,
3. Walmart's false narrative of cheap costs, actually cost the consumer more (I pay so much in taxes for the food stamps the Walmartians must apply for and receive due to the CEO salaries <ya know, those really rich four guys who don't take pay cuts> but low wage policies.)
4. etc, et cetera, etc.

I could go on, but it is upsetting.  Personally, I like the seasonally, tasty, non-GMO veggies from my own garden, the traded eggs from the neighbor's chickens...what a nice way to build a community.  When faced with a choice, I don't shop at WALMART, the Destroyer. YUCK!

Courtney Wyatt
Courtney Wyatt

Because WalMart is ghetto. At least Trader Joes treats their employees like living, breathing people.

contrary55
contrary55

Walmart is a junk shop that became a food store and attempts to muscle everyone else out of the area.  Trader Joe's was always a food store and seems to have happy employees and interesting food choices and the Three buck Chuck helps too.

Ian StClair
Ian StClair

Well done Lance, I have high hopes for you. For anyone that was lost on that see www.peopleofwalmart.com

Bret Egan
Bret Egan

Arbitrarily setting a "Living Wage" is unfair to the person whose labor is worth what the "Living Wage" mandates. Juan Doe whose labor might only be worth $8/hour, will get $3/hour in charity from the employer. The person whose labor is worth $11/hour will receive no charity. The minimum wage is insidious economic policy because it forces business to engage in charity, it purposefully discriminates against those whose labor output is under the minimum wage by guaranteeing them unemployment. The reason why teenage unemployment is at all time highs is because of the minimum wage.

daleearth
daleearth

Trader Joe's pay vs. Wal-Marts is not comparable in ANYWAY whatsoever.  Trader Joe's goods are a good VALUE (think quality + price), not cheap goods...

Trader Joe's is quirky and creative, even if a national retailer.  One of their core values is to support their local neighborhood through donations and community involvement.  Any product under their label is non-GMO, no preservatives, no hormones.  Their stores are fun and happy and many of the employee's genuinely love working there.

They compensate and treat their employee's incredibly well.  Amazing benefits for part-time employee's, including full medical, dental, vision... the best retirement plan in the industry and paid time off.  The pay and raises are top-notch.

Do some research... That's why people like TJ's and trash Wal-Mart.

And yes, I would rather support local business first, but Trader Joe's seems like a national chain that does it right...

John Twigg
John Twigg

I've never understood the desire to have large national chains of any type move in and drive locally owned businesses away. I just do nt get some peoples fascination with In-'n-out, Trader Joes, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, etc. I would rather patronize local businesses that give each area it's own personality rather than some mega chain that strives turn the country into one giant strip mall where everyplace looks the same

Emily Langley
Emily Langley

Not sure what you are trying to say here Bret? Sure if minimum wage had kept up with the 1% it would be at 28/hr and if it had kept pace with where it was in 1974 it would be $12/hour....what's your point? 11 is better than 7...and you can almost live on it...not a Trader Joe's fan, but someone who wants workers paid enough to live on.

Bret Egan
Bret Egan

So if someone's labor is worth $6/hr, a company should engage in charity to the tune of $5/ hr?

Keith A. Badje
Keith A. Badje

Trader Joes tries to treat their employees decently. Wal-Mart doesn't.

Emily Langley
Emily Langley

11/hr to start plus benefits for those over 24 hours it says in the article and the guy who works there stated the same. Its not a great wage, but having lived on both minimum and something close to this rate there is a huge difference!

Lance Cayko
Lance Cayko

Nope! I actually just bought the domain... thanks for the idea Ian! Anybody interested in the domain name?!

Bret Egan
Bret Egan

Westwood readers think taxing someone to give to another is fair so I'm not sure Westword readers are smart enough to render judgement.

Randall Erkelens
Randall Erkelens

It's all about branding and perceptions surrounding the brand. Having a Walmart in your neighborhood sends the wrong message. But I'd bet a portion of the people that voted it down shop there too.. maybe not as a rule, but in a supporting role... or at least shop at Target just south of the Trader Joes location. Let's face it, a Whole Foods consumer looks down on the Safeways, Albertsons and Kings of the world. Saks looks down on Target. Target looks down on Walmart and Walmart may look down on Dollar Stores. And then there are the Arcs and Goodwills. It's all class structure and star bellied sneetches. To me, a box of Cheerios tastes the same no matter which retailer I picked it up at. Some argue produce and meat quality. But packaged goods. The jury's still out for me.

redheaded1
redheaded1

I will not put one single penny in the Walton family's bank account. They're not paying their workers a living wage, and the taxpayers are suffering for it. Everything else about their business model is equally deplorable. Fuck them. Sideways. With an eggplant. 

I know nothing about TJ's except that I've heard some friends from Chicago speak favorably of their food. Another friend from NY says their meat and produce are not good. I'll have to make my own choice. 

More than likely, I might shop at TJ's  from time to time to pick up something good, but primarily shop at the King Sooper's that's about 200 yards from my house. 


Ryk McDorman
Ryk McDorman

Trade Joe's isn't trendy -- it's just good food at a good value. Now Walmart...

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

Anyone who doesn't understand the fundamental and obvious differences between Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's isn't using their internet connection for even the barest of research, so let's try something different: Shop at a Wal-Mart, then shop at a TJs. It's cool--I'll wait......

Michael Cano
Michael Cano

err because all the yuppies shop at trader joes and all the poor people shop at wally's

mizzkathleen
mizzkathleen

@JimTom I, as well as my whole family and tons of friends, love Trader Joes! We are all very conservative gun-loving Christians from Kansas and Missouri. Walmart lacks any nutritional value in 90% of their food. Maybe its nice to go to a place that sells good quality food, that you can find at health food stores, but for way cheaper.

contender
contender

@daleearth Absolutely this ^.  I thought this was an asinine thing for Westword to posit.  It is nice to see I didn't have to delve too far into the comments to see what I thought was an obvious truth.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Michael Cano I'm poor and I shop at TJs. They have reasonably low prices.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

@mizzkathleen @JimTom I don't see any sign that you aren't a self-centered, hipster loser.  "Walmart lacks any nutritional value in 90% of their food." Really? Do I have to say anymore about your comment?

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