Saturday, March 11, 2006

Trader Joe's comes to NYC

File under the heading, nostalgia.

The NY Times did a nice piece on the new Trader Joe's opening March 17th in Union Square. I can't wait.

I grew up six blocks from the original Trader Joe's on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. Along with Mijares, Trader Joe's was a part of my families weekly shopping ritual.

Mijares was a "house restaurant" in a residential neighborhood, our source for fresh tortillas and hand made tamales. You brought your own pot and Mijares filled it with tamales. I remember when they got their first "tortilla machine", an odd contraption with rollers and a long belt to move the tortillas. It was a long time ago and now Mijares is a chain of Mexican Restaurants.

Initially Trader Joe's was a nearby source for essentials, milk, bread, cheese, truly what one would think of as a "convenience store". Over the years as they refined their offerings (see the NYT article) our family refined our tastes. White bread was out, wheat bread was in, that sort of thing.

I've been in NYC for over 20 years, Trader Joe's is just about the only thing I miss about Los Angeles. Whenever I am visiting in LA, a trip to Trader Joe's with my mother is a must. My mother, 90 years young, is the quintessential "little old lady from Pasadena". She still continues to patronize the Arroyo Parkway store long after the Piggly Wiggly has faded into a pink memory. Curiously, even though I know it is not true, the original Trader Joe's, feels just like it did 40 years ago. I suspect this perception is similar to why our friends seem to look the same as they become older, small incremental changes blend into an even continuum and remain familiar.

Needless to say, I'm as happy as a clam that Trader Joe's is opening a store here in NYC

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