“Everyone go shop at Trader Joe’s ASAP!”

Trader Joe’s, originally uploaded by baobee.

So says a reader (in the comments section of yesterday’s rant or revel) who is going to potentially make a lot of folks very, very happy.

“I was just there and the cashier asked me what my zip code was — when I said 20010, she said “Yeah, that’s mine too. It would be nice if we had one of these in our neighborhood, wouldn’t it? That’s what the survey is for.” Which I took to mean that they are thinking about opening up a TJ’s in another part of DC and looking to see where their customer base lives. I don’t know how long they will be surveying customers, but if you want a TJ’s somewhere in POPville, it couldn’t hurt to head on down to Foggy Bottom and tell them where you live! (Sorry if I’m overly excited, but my cats like their cat food and the trek down to Foggy Bottom every other week kind of sucks. Ah, a girl can dream…)”

Would you be stoked to get a Trader Joe’s or will you be sated by an Ellwood Thompson’s coming to the DC USA project on 14th Street?

54 Comment

  • I think that’s a jump to conclusion, unfortunately. If they opened it up anywhere, I don’t think it would be in Columbia Heights/Petworth because of the direct competition with Elwood Thompson. My guess is Logan/U Street, Woodley Park/Adams Morgan or Capitol Hill. I also think their business model relies on cheaper rents, hence why they are everywhere in suburban strip malls.

    Let’s hope she’s right though- I love TJs!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I think if one went into Logan/U Street it would be phenomenally successful.

  • U street would be awesome if we cant get it in columbia heights. if it was in logan circle i would still go to the AM harris teeter most often.

  • Hmmmm. I was there today, and no one asked me!!

  • Bring Trader Joe’s to Petworth! I will go there tomorrow! I will write to Trader Joe’s and tell them to come to Petworth. Here is their contact info. http://www.traderjoes.com/contact_us.html

  • I’d be happy with Ellwood Thompson, based on what I’ve heard about it — but more to the point, is that the Foggy Bottom TJs in that pic? (I’ve never been.) If so, is that a line to get into that place?

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Nope, that’s a photo I found on flickr from NYC. I thought the line made it a good shot!

  • Ellwood Thompson all the way! Ellwood’s has WAY better produce and food from local sources. Have you read the TJ labels — lots of “made in china” and other far far away places.

    I hope people are happy about Ellwood’s — the community lobbied hard to get them here. For me it’s not like they’re the second choice after TJ. I would’ve first asked Ellwood’s to the prom and if they turned me down I’d ask TJ but only as friends.

  • Oh please oh please come to Mt Pleasant. We desperately need you. Buy out Bestway and give us fresh veggies and non-rancid meats.

  • anacostia. historic anacostia. you wanna have cheap rent, and make oodles of money, TJs? open in freakin’ anacostia. i swear to god, that’s a gold mine waiting to be mined by a company that isn’t afraid to color outside the goddamn lines.

  • If we are dreaming I dream of Wegmans!

  • So TJs has good catfood? I love the place but it’s happened to me twice, that the things I like have been discontinued. They stopped carrying blackened salmon (I never thought I’d like frozen fish as much as I like their salmon) and banana nut bread. But those lines in Foggy Bottom? Too much.

  • Ward 8 had half a dozen grocery stores in the 1970s. They all closed because they were losing millions every month to shoplifting. The Home Depot off Rhode Island Avenue was in the same boat until the Feds shut down the fencing operation the employees were running. Until Ward 8 takes care of their grocery theft problem, I don’t see groceries being a profitable business option in Anacostia.

  • I love Trader Joe’s, but I’d be surprised if they came to this area. First, where is a space they could even fit in? Second, seems like with the new Harris Teeter nearby, the planned new Safeway, the Giants, the Ellwood Thompson’s, and the forthcoming Yes Organic Market, we are going to be pretty well saturated with grocery options in the near future … wish Ellwood Thompson’s would be here before fall, but it sounds like it will be worth the wait!


  • woodley park. i dont live there but I have a lot of friends that do and its weird that great a neighborhood as it is. there is only a little market. they all drive to harris teeter. there is a lot of density in woodley and they deserve a grocery store within walking distance. the other underserved neighborhood would be MOUNT PLEASANT. PUT IT ON THE STRIP!

  • Yeah I’d dream for a Wegman’s too. Went to one in Fairfax with friends who live in the area (yes, we went to the grocery store, it really is a destination) and I was blown away. I love me some TJs, and when I lived in the West End area I shopped there regularly. However, TJs is still somewhat a specialty grocery store, I could do most, but not all, of my shopping there, and it is hella cheap, but I agree Herb, if I were dreaming I’d ask for a Wegmans.

  • I tried to go to TJ’s in Foggy Bottom twice on Sunday…the line snaked around the store, up and down the aisles – it was literally out the door! Granted, it was Super Bowl Sunday, but I’ve been to other TJ’s on a similarly busy food-centric day and never experienced that level of insanity. Plus the shelves were empy or in disarray. Horrible. They need another DC location STAT! When I lived in Cali, there were TJ’s all over the place, and it didn’t seem like rent/population density factored much in their individual locations. They just need to find a space, I’m sure. Hope it’s soon, bc I’m not going back to Foggy Bottom if that line is the norm.

  • I want a Fiesta Supermercado.

  • I vote for a Whole Foods where the ghetto Safeway currently is on Georgia Avenue. What would make it even better would be if they turned the Wendy’s next door into a cool Asian fusion restaurant or something.

  • I like the idea of putting on in Woodley Park. They could put it in that building at the southeast corner of Calvert and Connecticut. Customer parking is readily available beneath the building, and it’s a real waste of space having offices in that location, and not retail.

  • hipsters rejoice!

  • anon 9:20- that is a perfect location. it would make it accesible for adams morgan residents and some north dupont circle-kalorama residents as well. A TJs in that location would finally bring a grocery to woodley park and would rake it in.

  • @Odentex:

    No, not a Fiesta! I’m still trying to forget the nasty one (okay, I suppose there aren’t any other types of Fiestas) that was near my college campus…

  • this is the best news i’ve heard all day. i LOVE trader joes, i used to take the circulator down there every week when i lived downtown.

  • Speaking of Wegmans, what’s up with the Wegmans they’re putting in Landover? I’m pretty sure that’s the only Wegmans that will be Metro accessible.

  • If Trader Joes opens another location in DC I am convinced it will be near AU.

    They have been asking for zip codes for the last 7 years and it took forever for them to get one in DC at all.

  • Toby,

    Trader Joes doesn’t “Stop carrying” anything- everything they’ve always sold is limited. That’s their business model- they find a way to buy 30 tons of something cheaply then they sell it until its gone.

  • With a Whole Foods on 14+P, a Yes on 14+V, a Yes up on Georgia, Ellwoods on 14+Irving, I cannot imagine that TJ would even think about expanding into such an oversaturated market. Yes, it is different, but only a little.

    Rave: Went to Yes on 14+V this weekend: It was a totally awesome experience. Far different than the hassle and abuse at the Giant, and way better stuffs than the Shady Safeway. Can’t wait for one to open up on Georgia!

  • I just want TJs a little closer so I can get my cases of 2Buck Chuck easier. I get get the produce and other junk else where.

    Another general question – WTF was with the general grocery insanity that hit the stores this weekend? I know the superbowl was up, but didn’t anyone plan ahead? Jeesh, its times like that I wish I lived burbs (not that I know it was any better there)!

  • yes – a TJ’s in historic Anacostia would be a-mazing. unfortunately we first need to get a new development where the TJ’s can go. someone finance me please and I will get this done.

  • TJs usually locates themselves next to existing grocery stores like Whole Foods- that’s one of their business models- if an area can support whole foods they can support TJs. I don’t know why but I know from visiting every TJs in the entire area that this is true.

  • # Herb Says:
    February 3rd, 2009 at 5:41 am

    If we are dreaming I dream of Wegmans!


    I absolutely second that! There is Wegmans and then there is everything else.

    As for TJ’s I could care less. They were asked if they wanted in at DC USA and passed so after some hard work DC USA finally locked down Ellwoods. Now that TJ’s realizes their mistake they want to swoop in at the last minute? No Thanks.

  • I’d like a TJs in Petworth – far enough away from Elwood Thompson’s, but convenient bus ride for me.
    I’m looking forward to the ET for its fresh local food. But…my cats really like TJ’s cat food, and yeah, the trek blows the big monkey.

    Wegman’s is great – they are highly ranked as a good employer, which you surely can’t say about Harris Teeter. But the Wegman’s I’ve been to in Sterling is like a food shopping mall with a food court that rivals the size of most district grocery stores. It’s a mega-mall of food, and I don’t think we need that – where the hell would it go? Those things take up acres!


  • I don’t understand the TJ obsession here. It isn’t that great and they place their vegetables in plastic and styrofoam. That isn’t good for the veggies or the environment.

  • If you want a TJ’s in your ‘hood or have problems with their long lines, etc, for god’s sake, WRITE to them instead of bitching on here. It takes the same amount of time and energy!
    http://www.traderjoes.com/contact_us.html Do it and have a lovely day.

  • “As for TJ’s I could care less. They were asked if they wanted in at DC USA and passed so after some hard work DC USA finally locked down Ellwoods. Now that TJ’s realizes their mistake they want to swoop in at the last minute? No Thanks.”

    what are you talking about?

    people act like TJ’s is some kind of god that will only favor your neighborhood if enough supplication in the form of blog comments, tentative references in real estate marketing presentations, and general whining about how unfair / stupid TJs management are not to have recognized how perfect your neighborhood is. Get over it.

  • Bring TJ’s to H Street NE!!! Please! David @ Taylor

  • Um, isn’t the take home message from the obsession with getting a TJ in Columbia Heights that IT’S NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE. Look at where they are located now — Trader Joe’s isn’t interested in investing in transitional neighborhoods. They’re in the West End, Silver Spring, and Bethesda. Don’t waste your energy.

    We’ve obviously had much greater impact in recruiting smaller businesses — Yes and now Ellwood Thompson’s. I don’t think we’re going to sway Whole Foods and TJs. We already know that Safeway plans to tear down and rebuild in the same spot. If you’ve been to the new Safeway at 5th & K downtown, you’ll know that’s a good thing.

  • H Street NE? TJ’s wouldn’t dream of it. I’m so sick of hearing this, just give it up. TJs might move to Arlington, Cleveland Park, maybe Potomac. They don’t care about up-and-coming neighborhoods. You’re just shouting down a deep and empty hole.

  • I’m surprise there aren’t more Trader Joe’s in DC itself.

  • I live within a 10-minute walk of the Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn, and since it opened a few months ago, I haven’t stepped foot inside, though I shopped at TJ’s regularly in D.C. I can find better quality (and cheaper) produce and specialty items elsewhere and and while some of the frozen stuff is cheap and easy to make, the amount of frozen fish from unsustainable fisheries is really uncomfortable (seriously, they sell orange roughy!), as are the individually wrapped veggies shipped in from across the country. If you have an environmental conscious, you need to buy *very* carefully at Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, most people salivate over the cheap goods at TJ’s and buy without thinking. TJ’s trains consumers to be dumb and gluttonous. That’s why they’re successful.

    And why would TJ’s be interested in Columbia Heights? This whole argument reminds me of that quote in WaPo from two years ago or so with that newbie Columbia Heights resident saying, and I paraphrase: “I’m sorry, but a Whole Foods is just necessary.” Is it really? In any regard, D.C. needs a better selection of place that offer quality produce at a reasonable price. Petworth and Columbia Heights should instead push to attract a retailer that offers quality produce and not try to attract a retailer who wants its customers to consume as many tubs of hummous and cans of strange red pepper spread because it’s “exotic.” (But they wear jazzy Hawaiian shirts, so that makes TJ’s good people, right?)

    Remember a few things: Aside from a few counterexamples (Union Square, NYC), Trader Joe’s always goes for cheaper real estate, located slightly away from public transit (like the location in Foggy Bottom in D.C. or Cobble Hill in Brooklyn). That’s why most TJ’s are located in random strip malls, like Route 7 between Tyson’s Corner and Falls Church. Look at the locations of TJ’s in California. They’re slightly off the beaten path.

    And why would TJ’s spend top dollar for space in a neighborhood filled with “luxury rental” buildings that are half-filled like Columbia Heights? Let’s focus on some sustainable development, not because some newbie feels entitled to Trader Ming’s frozen dumplings.

  • Trader Joe’s sells their fruits and vegetables on the Walmart model. They require famers and producers to package the goods to the liking of the TJ buyers. This is an intense cost to the producer. TJ’s would get my vote if they changed these policies and became more producer friendly. They are not focused on anything local, just cheap. If you like walmart, keep buying from TJ’s. Only difference is the labor relations.

  • Wasn’t there talk of a farmer’s market (obviously seasonal) coming to the Park Triangle space? Even if just on the weekends, that would be awesome.

  • So we’re all agreed! “I want my favorite store to locate right next to where I live” appears to be a nearly universally accepted sentiment. And I’d like a TJ’s, too, but I throw my lot in with the crowd that says it ain’t gonna happen. TJ’s isn’t a traditional grocer, just a massive private label seller, but this area has sort of peaked on grocery stores, which require lots of (pricey) square footage and survive on small margins and high volume. 3 years ago, I would have been writing letters to TJ’s management with everyone else and given it passable odds, but now there’s the Yes!, Ellwood’s (almost, kinda sorta), Harris Teeter, Safeway, Giant, and even the Target’s ample grocery offerings in the general area. Pretty hard to drive volume in that environment.

  • live within a 10-minute walk of the Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn, and since it opened a few months ago, I haven’t stepped foot inside, though I shopped at TJ’s regularly in D.C

    You understand of course this post is, at its heart, nothing more than “NYC is a bigger city than DC, isn’t that awesome?” that I’ve banned at all message boards here, DCIST, etc.

    What’s next, NY has better pizza and bagels but why can’t it have good barbecue?

    Solives, get a grip. You’re living in a fantasyland.

    anonymous: TJs piggybacks on traditional grocery stores. They do not care about saturation because they consider themselves a separate entity that piggybacks on existing locations. TJs NEVER locates away from existing stores.

    I mean, did starbucks locate away from coffee shops or did they locate across the street?

  • TJ’s business model includes low or subsidized rent AND dedicated parking. They don’t build their own buildings. The Foggy Bottom location is subsidized and has dedicated parking.

  • Looking at the existing locations they have in the region through the Google Maps link on their site, I’d predict that the next spot most likely to get a TJ’s would be somewhere around College Park.

  • Your a pickle and I am 2,

    Agree – the farmer’s markets are best for produce – local and you can bring your own (reusable wrapping. It’s the cheap booze that keeps me going back. And the cat food (my little rodents love it).
    More and more, I’ve been able to phase out TJ’s – having found local places that sell the same things, often for cheaper. TJ’s beer is fantastic, though. And cheap.

  • Who the hell wants their red and green peppers packaged in plastic and styrofoam? I don’t. I really don’t see why you people love TJ’s. It doesn’t make sense. I think some of you people have a case of mass hysteria brought on by large evil corporations like TJ’s.

  • Nothing you’ve really posted here makes sense in the real world Pickle.

    7-11 sells produce in plastic too but you know what… I don’t know anyone who buys produce from 7-11. I have yet to buy produce from TJs because that’s not what the store really sells.

    TJs is not a traditional grocery store, it locates itself near existing grocery stores (visit any TJs in the area and then look for the Whole Foods nearby). They want to be adjunct to existing grocery stores.

    Why are people so blind to the obvious! Consumers don’t care how they package their produce because TJs could eliminate that line of products from their stores at will.

    I challenge Binklesworth and anyone else to list one single store that sells the same products that TJs does at their price point. There aren’t any. The majority of TJ’s private label products are unique to TJs on the entire east coast. I know this part of the grocery industry very well and such stores do not exist on the east coast, period. Yes sells vegetarian frozen dinners for 50-75% more than TJs. Wine stores sell the same wine that TJs does for 100-150% more than TJs charges. I mean, don’t treat me like I’m uneducated because I will catch you in your BS.

    The only store with remotely a similar selection to TJs is Rodmans. But that’s it for the entire DC area. If you think otherwise, I will prove you wrong.

  • Neener, I agree with most of your point, particularly that it’s a different type of business (upscale private label) and not positioned as a direct-competitor to full-service grocers that offer a full component of fresh and dairy products, but … ummm … the Foggy Bottom, Bethesda, and Silver Spring TJs aren’t really located anywhere close to other grocers. At least in this geographic market (also true of the downtown Philly TJ’s), the “adjunct” store theory doesn’t really hold, at least as far as how they site their stores.

  • Neener can you go ahead and tell me which grocery stores TJs is “piggybacking” on in the dc area? Not sure how much water this pet theory of yours holds. I mean for it to be piggybacking as you say the grocery store would have to be a direct competitor geographically speaking. that would mean within 2 or 3 blocks by a citys standards. where are these neighboring whole foods you speak of?

  • Neener, I do not believe I’m in a fantasyland (I live in and love DC — is that a fantasyland?). I am a consumer who chooses to be educated about the source of my food. I eat a ton of it and I love it. I do not support corporations that do not support food producers, and the walmart model that TJ’s adopted only supports the stockholders, not the producers. For you, that may be too big of a jump, but that’s where I stand. Judge all you want.

  • Hm. Well TJ’s may not buy local, but they’re not the only grocery chain that re-packages products with their logo on it (Safeway being the most obvious example).

    And, according to this BusinessWeek article I just googled: “about 80% of Trader Joe’s goods are private label, compared with 16% for the rest of the supermarket industry.”

    What that means is business for smaller companies that normally wouldn’t be able to compete with the major name (read: big, evil, corporate) brands. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

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