Five things I really don't like about Trader Joe's
For years, Trader Joe's- deprived Coloradans wondered when this retail shopping mecca would bless our state. This week we learned that we would soon have an embarrassment of riches: The metro area will soon have not three but four stores, all slated to open some time in 2014. That still gives customers time to anticipate the wonders ahead -- and the developers an opportunity to fix a few of the problems you find at just about every Trader Joe's. Yes, even I, one of the
It's not a Joe-topia.... worst most loyal, brain-glazed Trader Joe's cult members, can find fault with the mother church.
Here are five things I really don't like about Trader Joe's -- an embarrassment of bitches. The endless samples of asparagus risotto and Dixie cups of chai latte make up for a lot, but not everything.
Trader Joe's offering affordable health-care coverage to its part-time employees was one of the major things that set TJ's apart from other food retailers with less exalted reputations, but according to a leaked staff memo dated August 30, 2013, Trader Joe's will no longer be providing health care for workers employed under 30 hours a week. According to the memo, Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane says the company will cut part-timers a check for $500 in January 2014, and help guide them toward finding a new plan under the Affordable Care Act. TJ's will continue to offer health benefits to employees who work 30 hours a week or more, but the rest of the lot are shit outta luck.
Congratulations, Trader Joe's: The $500 check is nice and all, but what would be much nicer for your workers is to not cave in to Wal-Mart-style worker disregard and keep them in health insurance.
For those of you who have never had to navigate a Trader Joe's parking lot, here's a free tip: If you think the lot at Whole Foods is a demilitarized zone, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Yoga moms and soccer dads turn feral the second they hit the lot, and their fuel-efficient hybrid cars are set to kill -- not stun. You could be beaten about the head and neck with a fake Gucci handbag over the last shopping cart, or have a half-empty water bottle full of Crystal Light hurled at you for daring to scope a parking spot someone is already casing. And watching someone try to park a Chevy Trailblazer into the crevice between the store wall and the bicycle rack is almost as much fun as trying to do it yourself.
If you are smart and pack a rolling cart on the bus to travel there and back, then crack open an organic cane-sugar-sweetened soda, sit back and watch the madness with the Benny Hill song on your iPod.
If the parking lot at Trader Joe's whiffs of suburban anarchy, then the inside of the store gives off the unmistakable odor of smugness -- not the everyday, recognizable smug of folks who brought their own biodegradable shopping bags, but the ripe, putrid stench of smug that is normally reserved for wine drinkers and PTA members. If you've never had a conversation by the cheese island about how public school lunches and why over-privileged tots deserve goat cheese medallions, prickly pear juice and 27-grain artisan crackers, then the pleasure will truly be all yours.
And if you value your version of reality, try not to spend too much time chatting with other shoppers in the beauty and hygiene aisle. The smug alert is usually at higher levels over the health benefits of using the 27-grain toilet paper.