Trader Joe’s Unintended Side Effect
Hoarding might be genetic. I feel like I have a propensity deep in my bones to stock up on items and hold onto things. There is a famous story in my family about my father having similar instincts at a young age. And my sister, who has known me all of her life, gave me the best birthday gift ever, two packs of astronaut ice cream. One so I could save it, and the other so I could eat it.
Mrs. Fussy is the exact opposite. She’s a tosser. And her streamlined ways have had a profound effect on me. Food now rarely gets wasted. I’ll even find myself voluntarily thinning out piles of my own paperwork, instead of stacking new piles on top of old piles.
When I go grocery shopping I tend to stock up on staples. Instead of buying a twelve pack of seltzer at Price Chopper, I’ll by ten twelve-packs of seltzer when they are on sale. Boxes of 100% whole wheat pasta get put in my shopping cart in multiples of three. Once tomatoes stop coming in from the CSA I’ll buy twelve cans diced tomatoes, hoping that this one purchase will get me through winter.
And when I used to travel to a faraway Trader Joe’s? Oh my. The cart would be overflowing. I’ve still got bottles of pomegranate juice and bags of tart dried cherries on a high shelf in the closet from a trip six months ago.
But then Trader Joe’s came to Albany. And this sounds weird, but it changed me.
Earlier this week I headed back to our new store, because I was looking at a shopping list that was filled with TJ’s staples: cereal, baby carrots, coffee, toothpaste, snacks, crunchy peanut butter, skim milk, yogurt, hummus, and butter.
My go-to peanut butter as of late has been at Hannaford. I get the Smucker’s natural with just peanuts and salt, which comes packed in glass jars. It satisfies all my crazy issues for the least amount of money these days. (In the past, Walmart’s price on Teddy natural peanut butter was lower, but no longer).
The TJ’s peanut butter is packed in plastic, which I’m not crazy about. But it’s delicious, and the rest of the family look forward to having it in the house, so I make the compromise, and in this case give the wife and kids what they want.
Peanut butter lasts, and we go through a fair bit of it here. So usually when I buy it, I pick up three to four jars at a time.
Except at TJ’s I only bought one.
Later that day I realized somehow capers didn’t make my shopping list. I’ve actually been in dire need of capers for a while now. And like peanut butter, capers last.
Except when I pulled into TJs the following day, I bought just one jar of them as well.
Usually I would have at least doubled up. But I also picked up just ONE pack of 100% whole wheat spaghetti, and two cans of black beans (that’s one meal’s worth in a household where Little Miss Fussy has earned the nickname Bean). And I did it with glee.
Pretty much I walk through the store now without the pressure to fill the cart with eight boxes of cereal, and with no concern as to whether I’ll be able to fit four bags of sweet potato chips in the back of the car. I’ve got a shit-eating grin on my face, and one simple thought repeating over and over again in my mind.
I can come back here anytime I want!
Parking sucks. But parking sucks at almost every Trader Joe’s everywhere. And I’ve already got my parking strategies figured out. So I now find it to be pretty painless. But gauging by the snarl of traffic and honking of horns as cars try to exit onto Wolf Road, there are still some who are experiencing a fair bit of pain.
Parking sucks at the co-op too. But as both of these businesses have proven, you can have bad parking and still make money hand over fist.
Anyway, I’m still walking on air. I don’t know how long it’s going to last. But I’m going to enjoy the feeling for now. Probably when TJ’s pulls one of my beloved products from the shelf, as they are sometimes inclined to do, I’ll remember why I started stashing away bags of pad prik king in the first place and revert to my old ways.
Change is good. But it doesn’t always last.