Tuesday, January 1, 2008
An Open Letter To Trader Joe's
Dear Trader Joe's,
We haven't known each other all that long. In fact, we only met about five years ago. You came highly recommended. As soon as it became official that we would be moving to Oregon, people came out of the woodwork to sing your praises. "You are going to LOVE having Trader Joe's so close by!" everyone said. I'd nod my head and feign excitement. After the limited shopping I had in North Carolina, I was just thrilled to shop anywhere without the word "Piggly" in the title.
The first time I stopped in to meet you, I was completely unprepared. I came looking for diapers. Turns out you don't carry diapers--well, maybe organic unbleached cotton ones or something, but not the Huggies I was seeking. I took a quick trip up and down the aisles then left empty-handed. Sure, some of your products looked intriguing, but clearly you were not going to meet my entire grocery needs, so what was the point? In those days, I had a 5 year old and a 2 year old in tow. I was most definitely not interested in adding more shopping trips to my tenuous routine.
Eventually I found some time to visit you alone to see what all the fuss was about. I was instantly charmed. Tiny little champagne grapes, jars of sweet-hot mustard, adorable graham cracker cats, and of course bottles of Two Buck Chuck. I soon learned that the treats I brought home for the kids went mostly uneaten. Apparently organic Jo-Jo cookies couldn't hold a candle to Oreos and the only person who liked the graham cracker cats was me. So I stopped shopping with the kids in mind and found even more to love. Now this was in the days when I had just lost over 50 pounds using Weight Watchers and I was always on the lookout for low points foods. You were a mecca for that. Meringue cookies for 2 points each, 3/4 of a cup of Puffins cereal for one point, and the pinnacle: Milk Chocolate Covered Soy Nuts. Points wise, these translated into about 1 point for a tablespoon. That may not sound like much but being able to grab a handful of them when I needed a hit of chocolate was instrumental in maintaining my weight loss. Most nights I would make myself a sort of snack mix to eat while watching TV by using Puffins cereal, chocolate covered soy nuts, and a handful of mini-marshmallows. I was thrilled with this development and no trip to see you was complete without 2 or 3 packages of your soy nuts in my cart.
This past year, I noticed that the milk chocolate ones were increasingly scarce. I asked and was told that they had been discontinued. This was a blow, indeed. I shot off an email of complaint and soon received a form letter response registering my concern. On my next visit, I reluctantly choses a container of the dark chocolate ones. They weren't as good as the milk chocolate ones, but hey, a relationship requires work by both parties and I was able to make the adjustment. Over time I began to enjoy them and all was well. I felt we had successfully weathered this potentially stormy time. Then, this fall, I noticed the dark chocolate ones were gone. I inquired with the cashier and was told they had been discontinued as well. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I sighed loudly and asked her why you were trying to ruin my life. She suggested I try the chocolate covered edamame. I stopped myself from suggesting she shut the hell up.
I came home and shot off another email, this one dripping with sorrow and disappointment. You wrote me back explaining that frequently rotating in new products kept things fresh and exciting. You admitted that limited shelf space meant that this had to be done at the expense of older, established products. I couldn't believe you could be so selfish. Fresh and exciting for who? What about older, established CUSTOMERS? I had been faithful to you for years and I didn't appreciate your disregard for my needs. I did some internet searching and found entire message boards devoted to the heartbreak YOU inflict by discontinuing your products. It helped a little to know I wasn't alone.
I pulled myself together and tried to bounce back. I did more searching assuming that these chocolate covered soy nuts must be available SOMEwhere--isn't this exactly why the internet exists? Yeah, well, here's a big fat thanks for nothing, internet. The only ones I can find online have only one gram of fiber per serving. Your soy nuts had 5 grams. The fiber count is essential in making it a low-points food. Fine You win. Are you happy now? I'm left with NOTHING. Why do you hate me, Trader Joe's? All I've done is love you and given you money. When the Fearless Flyer comes out, I peruse it like food porn. And this, this is the thanks I get.
My next trip in, the cashier again suggested I try the chocolate covered edamame. Fine. I bought some. Not surprisingly, Ritu and I had the following conversation:
"What did you think of the chocolate covered edamame I bought?"
"I tried it but I really didn't like it very much."
"Well, of course you didn't. It's chocolate covered edamame for God's sake. Who the fuck would want to eat that?"
I hope that someday we can be friends again, but for now, I think it's best if we just stop seeing each other. I just can't risk being hurt like this again.
Posted by Janet at 4:04 PM