There are many reasons to love Trader Joe's, but here's my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):
1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and "convenient".
2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium--like the "Belgium chocolate" above!
3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store.
4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy--they've already narrowed the field for you.
5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles--tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample--the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it--uh, not on my diet, but thanks!
6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done--tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up--ring, ring--a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick.
7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don't break on the way home and the goodies don't fall out.
8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside...never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line.
9) They are eco-friendly and have lot's of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything.
10) They ask you--and seem to mean it--if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect.
Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe's that's Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.
So it's not the only store I go to--variety is still the spice of life. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)