Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I'll Trade (Almost) Anything for a Joe's

One of my fondest memories of living in Ann Arbor is Tom and I walking - with Will skipping along beside us and Hallie riding in the stroller - to and from and shopping at Trader Joe's. As a graduate student Tom often worked evenings and weekends, but if at all possible he made it home by the time the kids woke from their naps on Sunday afternoons. The four of us would gather our reusable totes, a few snacks and toys, and Will's epi-pen (Trader Joe's ALWAYS offers samples), load everything into our massive double jogging stroller, and hit the pavement. The shortest route was just over a mile, and by the time he was three-and-a-half, Will could make the "trek" under his own power. Hallie, on the other hand, cried to walk and then cried to ride and then cried to walk and then cried to ride…for the entire 20-25 minutes.
Sometimes it was a little crowded on the
way home. "I carried a watermelon."
Crying to walk.
Crying to ride.
Once they rode all the way to TJ's without fighting. When I rounded
the stroller to photograph this momentous occasion, I discovered
that Will had fallen asleep. Explained the absence of fighting...
And then Hallie slapped him. In his sleep. Oi vey.
Once we arrived we pushed our (too large for a grocery store) stroller through the aisles, gathering whatever sounded good for dinner that night and "stowing" it around Hallie. Fresh flowers, perfectly ripe fruits and veggies, sourdough bread, pretzel rolls, assorted cheeses, stuffed chicken breasts, creamy tomato basil and roasted butternut squash soups, fruit bars, unique beers, Two-Buck (now Three-Buck) Chuck (otherwise known as $3 bottles of Charles Shaw wine), and chocolate cake. Oh, chocolate cake. Hungry, anyone? We always ate well - and together - on Sunday evenings.

As Will and Hallie grew older and became slightly more trustworthy, Tom and I started letting them help us gather groceries using Trader Joe's bright red, child-sized shopping carts. Though we had to pay close attention to make sure they didn't run their carts into unsuspecting ankles or reach the check out with unapproved groceries (Will was known to fill his cart with a single item - 107 fruit bars, 43 tins of tree tree mints, 16 cans of black olives, or I-have-no-idea-how-many used sample cups), Will and Hallie always behaved better while shopping with their own carts because they were having fun and feeling like a part of the team.

Without regular access to Trader Joe's, we plan accordingly when we travel to either of our parents' houses (I leave enough space among the packed-in-the-trunk suitcases for Trader Joe's food to make the trip back home with us) or they drive to Texas (I send shopping lists ahead of time). We love their delicious, unique, and affordable food, their customer service, and the memories we've made on our way to and from and in their stores.

I'd trade any grocery store or restaurant (ok, maybe not Panera or Rosa's) for a Trader Joe's - it may be silly, but having one here would make this place feel even more like home.

I have no affiliation with Trader Joe's and did not receive any compensation for this post. The opinions and nostalgia expressed are entirely my own, though if you agree with me and live in my neck of the woods, would you kindly take a moment and let the big wigs over a Joe's know you'd like them to set up shop in our area? Thanks! 

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