Trader Joe's is Trading on Texas: Dallas to Get First Store

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Photo by davynin
Inside a Trader Joe's store in Pittsburgh.
The Dallas Morning News roused a lot of food-lovers across the state with some happy news this morning: Trader Joe's, the specialty grocery chain based in California, is coming to Texas. Hot on the heels of another California import, In-N-Out Burger, Trader Joe's first Texas store will be in Dallas, which has led to speculation from Dallasites as to its possible location.

The store also plans to open in Austin and Houston, and we've already scoped out the perfect location in the hollow shell of what's left at the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer where Blockbuster once stood. Yes, it would cause increased traffic at the intersection -- especially when Uchi and a slew of other bars and restaurants move in shortly -- but perhaps that would finally encourage the City of Houston to fix the dismal streets in that area once and for all.

Trader Joe's is known for stocking a very small inventory of products: 4,000 as opposed to the 50,000 goods found in a regular-size grocery store, most of those items produced in-house and bearing the store's own label. The company claims that any item bearing a Trader Joe's label contains "no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives; no genetically modified ingredients; no MSG; and no added Trans Fats." It's also known for keeping costs on its items down, despite selling an interesting variety of ethnic food, health food, beer and wine.

While we're excited about a possible future involving trips to Trader Joe's for Two Buck Chuck, the reaction from the Houston food community has been mixed.

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Photo by
A wall of Charles Shaw wine -- "Two Buck Chuck" -- at Trader Joe's.
"Why all the excitement about Trader Joe's? I know it's quirky, but they don't carry stuff we can't already get mostly here in Houston," said Twitter user @drricky. "I can understand celebrating a local place like @RevivalMarket. Chain expansion is meh."

Twitter user @solarfish30 elaborated: "We have [Central Market]. Don't need Trader Joes. Most of it is processed crap IMO."

Which leads us to ask: Exactly how profitable would a Trader Joe's be in a city like Houston, where grocery stores like Central Market, Whole Foods, Phoenicia, Fiesta and -- to a lesser but still important extent, Revival Market -- have already successfully captured the Trader Joe's demographic?

One Twitter user offered this reasoning: "I love Whole Foods but the beauty of Trader Joe's is how reasonably priced everything is," said @wheresmuffy. And the Chron's food critic, Alison Cook, weighed in with her own suggestion: "I'm not a huge Trader Joe's fan but I do like the reasonably priced bulk nuts. You have to shop very selectively there."

Will Houston welcome another grocery store into its already crowded scene, much less one that might only interest those who are shopping selectively? That remains to be seen, as Trader Joe's still hasn't announced the location for a Dallas store, let alone its Houston offshoot.

We're holding out hope for Montrose, though.



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95 comments
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Shari Vaillancourt
Shari Vaillancourt

Are. You. Freakin. Kidding. Me?[[thump]] Someone help me up please!  All I can say is next time I come to TX, they better be open.  Cause I AM getting me some Two Buck Chuck!

Lifecoach4u
Lifecoach4u

I'm moving to Dallas Tx.Californians are very aware of their diet and try to eat healthy. Texans don't really have a "Healthy" alternative place to shop at. So here's a great place with great stuff and reasonably priced too! So Im really happy TJs will be there too.

B Guillory
B Guillory

As a Texan who relocated to Georgia for several years, I can truly say most Texans don't know what they are talking about.  Trader Joe's is about value and quality.  Whether it is Port Salut Cheese or fresh Proscuitto or value wines, Trader Joe's puts out a quality product at a great price.  I love Whole Foods dearly, but most people cannot afford WF.  TJ will be wildly successful in Texas

Day trading help
Day trading help

Trader Joes raises the bar tremendously and maybe it will alpha to accomplish abreast by grocery food footfall up their game. Thanks for sharing such kind of information with us.

Amy Pearson
Amy Pearson

We cannot depend on government institutionsor multinational corporations to "allow us" to be organic - we musttake action to make it happen!

 

Jill
Jill

I am so, so excited that Trader Joes may be opening in Houston...CAN'T WAIT!  I'm a Saramento, CA native and lived within one city block of the Sacramento location back in the 80's. CAN'T WAIT...HURRY! 

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Javajoy01
Javajoy01

Would be nice if I did not live 5 hours from all the big cities. We need places like this In midland. I shopped in TJs a lot where I used to lived and I miss it.

TS4321
TS4321

The TJ haters don't have to shop there. The rest of us are EAGERLY awaiting TJ's arrival in Houston.

darcy
darcy

I love trader joes! and i have been in that exact location in Pittsburgh! Can't wait for it to come here. The prices are really much better than whole foods and central market for the same stuff. I'm tired of paying so much for organic foods!

Karen Wentzell
Karen Wentzell

I have been to thier store in VA Beach and it is the best store ever, I think they need to come to Central Florida!

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Annikins08
Annikins08

In my humble opinion.. Anyone making negative comments about TRADER JOES- Has probably never shopped there regularly and is speaking from a wholly uneducted place.. I hope that they do not go and crowd up my parkin' lot , cuz I LOVE TJ!! There are so many people in this city who have lived on BOTH coasts and KNOW the Magic of TJ that all you other naysayers are really not needed to make it a success and I grew up at HEB foundation camps and shopping there as well ( total Texas) and I will not stop going to Buffalo Mkt oMkt  rev. mkt and Central Mkt BUT .... TJ is my FAV!!!! 

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Chrstucker
Chrstucker

Who can shop at Revival Market regularly aside from lawyers and TFBs? It's great and all but yeeow it's pricey.NO ONE can touch Trader Joe's for quality coffee at ridiculously low prices. And variety too.Same goes for: cheeses, juices & sparkling juices, cereals, breads, and nuts.Central Market is really nice. AND really expensive. Yet no guarantees about non-GM, HFC-free foods.They have unique foods you will literally crave. As I did last weekend when I suddenly remembered TJ's awesome 3 layer humus dip. I've seen similar round town, for twice the TJ's price and not the same perfect combination of humuses.You'll understand soon enough.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I shop there all the time, and believe me - I don't make even a fourth of what a lawyer does. :)

Shell bell
Shell bell

Trader Joes is great! It doesn't take your Whole paycheck like Wholefoods! Great organic food, drinks, snack...you name it they've got it and the prices are amazing. Also the customer service is awesome. Even if you're not big on organic eating I urge you to go, you might be surprised when you find that organic food taste so much better and you don't have to pay the organic price. And if it's not that big of a deal to you then you can continue to go to your Walmart or grocery store w/ crapy food and customer service. Trader Joes raises the bar tremendously, and maybe it will start to make near by grocery stores step up their game. Not to mention TX is one of the most obese states, getting a Trader Joes here is a win win all around.

Kelly
Kelly

I am a California transplant and now a Heights dweller. Can't wait for Trader Joe's to open out here! I am quite sure for those of us who know and love TJ's, that the Heights would be a perfect spot for a store like Trader Joe's. Their frozen stir fry is amazing and they have an awesome selection of beers and ales, not to mention their Two Buck Chuck! Prices are much lower than those of Whole Foods and Central Market. I will most definitely move ALL of my shopping to Trader Joe's!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Can't wait for the Houston locations. I ALWAYS go to Trader Joe's whenever I'm in Southern California. Their prepared frozen foods are for the most part, excellent. Love their selection of privately labeled condiments - like roasted tomato pesto, champagne vinegar, or this mint chocolate cocoa I bought over Xmas break- amazingly bargain priced at something like $3-$4. And they taste just wonderful. I've brought similar products at farmer's markets and gourmet food outlets for $10-16. Trader Joe's is. the. bomb!

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rylanet
rylanet

I love TJ's. But why can't some more things come out west? I won't drive into Montrose just to shop there. Katy needs more places like this.

Rindy S.
Rindy S.

I don't do 2 buck Chucks, but the other wine selections are wonderful. The organic oatmeal is wonderful, actually tastes like something and is cheaper than Quaker. Cheese, salami, bread, olives, hummus, things you dash in for a picnic lunch or a weekend leisure meal, well you will enjoy TJ. I am a former Whole Foods employee and I shop HEB and Central when I hit Houston and will add Trader Joe to the list. Yes, go ahead make fun of my oatmeal fetish.

Hollymmeier
Hollymmeier

This is my DREAM COME TRUE!!!! Trader Joe's WILL make a HUGE impact on Houston's eating and shopping habits!!! Oh my, Oh my I am so excited!!

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Guest
Guest

Nobody who's lived near a Trader Joe's before has any doubt that it has MUCH to offer the Houston scene.

MUCH, SCHMUCH
MUCH, SCHMUCH

There's a "scene" for grocery stores??? What the fuck are you on about?

Bulk Nuts
Bulk Nuts

Criminy. Are 50% of the commenters on here actually paid spokespersons for Trader Joe's? It's nothing but a fucking HEB "pantry store" that's removed all the labels off the products and has been festooned with discontinued Pier One wall decor.

desdemona
desdemona

No, try again. I can only speak for myself, but I love Trader Joe's. It's a really great store, and I don't understand where all the ambivalence and dismissive posturing is coming from. Don't worry Houston, you're still going to have your miles and miles of overpriced grocery stores. It's not like this will take that away from you.

Deez Nuts
Deez Nuts

[shrug]The prices aren't that great. It's just a small grocery store that's so overwhelmingly brand conscious that you can't find what you're looking for.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I lived in an area where there was a nearby Trader Joe's with a Whole Foods directly across the street from it. I probably went to Whole Foods nine times for every time I went to TJ's. TJ's is OK for frozen foods and a small selection of other stuff. I'd rather have an HEB than either Whole Foods or TJ's.

Shut Up & Eat!
Shut Up & Eat!

Trader joe's is "great" - if you just want to buy *something*, but can't be bothered with making choices.

Kate Sommers
Kate Sommers

As an ex-trader joe's employee (and a Minnesotan whose parents live in Houston) I know the good, bad and ugly when it comes to trader joe's. Yes. 2 buck chuck is not good. But it also helps otherwise non-wine drinkers start drinking wine. TJ's also has MANY trader Joe's exclusive wine labels ranging from 4-20 dollars that are steals compared to wine in similar price ranges available at Spec's, Whole Foods and Central Market.

Onto the cheese. The pricing on Parmigiano Reggiano ALONE will make you happy they are in town. Not to mention Saint Andre, 3 varieties of other triple creme brie, stilton, gruyere and fresh mozzarella. Do they have unique and local cheese? No. Can you get your staples for up to $5 a pound less than elsewhere? Hell Yes you can.

Other things Trader Joe's has at a ridiculous price discount compared to any other stores in Houston: Nuts, nut butter, French soaps, organic frozen pizzas and enchiladas and vegetables, national brand soups packaged in trader joe's private label cutting the price in HALF! Dried fruit, Olive oil, saffron, Dark chocolate.

Is trader joe's part of my daily/weekly shopping ritual? No. Am I glad we have it in the twin cities area? Absolutely. Not to mention the customer service is outstanding.

desdemona
desdemona

It was part of my weekly shopping ritual when I lived in Chicago, and I will be very happy when it is again here in Houston. So glad it's coming to my hometown!

H_e_x
H_e_x

I don't see what the big deal is. Like In n Out, I think Trader Joes is overrated.

Roveraker
Roveraker

One Q's, then maybe 2... Do they accept EBT? Or coupons???

Kate Sommers
Kate Sommers

they do except EBT and manufacturers coupons, but 80% of the products are private labeled and they don't have in store coupons as they work off of the every day low price principle.

Ian
Ian

Raised on Trader Joe's and recently re-transplanted to Houston this is fantastic news. It's not an issue of competing with Whole Foods or Central Market, there is a plenty diverse grocery market scene in LA too (on top of there being more and far superior Farmer's Markets.) It wins because, from my experience, doing all your shopping at Trader Joe's and Farmers Markets (for fresh produce) it costs half as much as Central Market for the same thing. Yeah it's two place's, but I make it up literally 100x the cost of gasoline.

The best way to express it is, it's not the "best", it's your favorite.

Richard
Richard

When I shop Trader Joe's in Ventura, Ca., the fresh vegetables, fruits and milk are cheaper than at the supermarket (Ralphs and Vons). Can't wait for it to come to Houston! And you can't beat Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw's wine). Also, a great variety of nuts and granola at prices a lot cheaper than Central Market or Whole Foods, especially for people like me on a budget and a fixed income. The store is an adventure every time you go into it!

Jack Burton
Jack Burton

I think Trader Joe's is banking on how well they have done in the New Jersey market and having the foresight that there success will transfer to the Dallas D-bag Demographic.

Jemimagold
Jemimagold

TJ's spicy thai peanuts are great as is their black bean dip. I cart this stuff back to Houston whenever I come across a TJ store. They can't come to Houston fast enough!!

joel_luks
joel_luks

Well, we all like cheap nuts.

Terry
Terry

This is the best news! Trader Joe's has great food at low prices. Can't wait.

Caroline
Caroline

For those who are comparing TJs to Central Market or Whole Foods, you're not quite getting it. Imagine getting the same quality, natural, often organic foods for a fraction of the price. Imagine ethnic foods that are heat-and-eat and taste like the real deal, for $2-3 a serving. Imagine healthy snacks your kid and their soccer team will gobble up and won't break your wallet. The moms who drop serious bank at WF to ensure no high fructose corn syrup or preservatives cross their little one's lips are going to go apeshit for TJs. As for me, I'm looking forward to finally being able to save some money on my grocery bill again, while eating better and healthier than I can on a HEB/Kroger budget.

desdemona
desdemona

Exactly! Also I think what people aren't getting is that sometimes it's nice to go to a smaller more affordable grocery store with a nice selection of products. Don't get me wrong, I love CM and WF, but if they open a Trader Joe's in my neighborhood, it will become my regular place to buy groceries especially if it's walking or biking distance. I hate driving, and Trader Joe's is perfect for those little pockets of Houston that don't require huge SUVs to get around in.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Ever been to Phoenicia?

Caroline
Caroline

Yes. Trader Joes is broader in range (I found Phoenicia to be primarily Middle-Eastern, with some forays into the colonial foodstuffs represented in each country) and unlike Phoenicia, the odds are at least one TJs will be located where it won't take me an hour to get there.

That being said, I would drive to Dallas for a TJs. I would only make the trip from my 'hood to Phoenicia if I was hosting a party where I wanted to stock up on the items they specialize in, or if I happened to be waaaay the heck out on the west side, already in the area for something else.

Bruce R
Bruce R

If you would drive to Dallas to go to TJ's then you are insane.

TJ fan
TJ fan

I have missed tj's since moving from California 11 years ago. You will all be singing their praises soon.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I'll echo Alison Cook's comments. I've lived in areas with Trader Joe's and found them to be OK for selected items. It's not a substitute for a proper grocery store. Houston boasts about some mediocre things but one thing Houston is modest about is its excellent grocery stores. I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed with TJ's if their expectations are too high. Kind of like El Real.

Shut Up & Eat!
Shut Up & Eat!

Yeah. You nailed it, Bruce. Trader Joe's almost feels shopping for groceries at a Buc-ees, but without the good bathrooms.

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