T-2 Minutes to Trader Joe’s on 14th Street! UPDATE – Now Open – Behold the First Customer and more Photos

1916 14th Street, NW

@Kspits tweets us:

“5 mins til #TraderJoes opens on U street! They’re handing out free grocery bags.”

And thanks to a reader for sending these photo updates:

“The woman in purple MAY have been the first shopper to check out; accounts are murky…”



“The store was bustling, crowded and fun. Employees and shoppers alike both seemed happy and excited about the moment.”


“The rarely seen trader Joe’s loading dock, where the real magic happens. Lots of wine on pallets moving in here.”


76 Comment

  • YES!!!!!!!! 🙂


    • OMG, they carry cookie butter! I’ve only seen it at world market or other specialty grocery stores. I’m going to pretend I don’t know it’s there, lol. I can go through an entire jar of it in one sitting. Love TJs!

    • Though, the cookies’ and the associated cookie butter’s product names seem like they may be drawn from a Dr. Seuss book about a fantastical OB/GYN clinic.

  • Am I the only one who’s kind of “meh” about Trader Joe’s? I’ve never really understood the fuss.

    • Yeah…..you are the only one.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Fear not Captain Obvious – if you go through any of the other 5000 or so Trader Joe’s posts you’ll see like minded citizens with the same sentiment. And I also suppose y’all have never tried the mini tacos…

    • You and me, buddy.
      I find TJs to be absolutely overrated. Hardly any fresh food, lots of terrible ingredients in packaged items, frozen pre-made meals that are barely a step up from TV dinners, organic claims that are dubious since they lack transparency of sources and has a shitty selection of wine.
      No thanks.

    • I think the only worthwhile thing they have is cheap wine.

    • Nope. Meh here too. Nice to have that option around but I prefer shopping at a full service grocery store most of the time with national name brands. Will go there occasionally to add variety or accent items to our meals.

      • There was a recent article in Businessweek or a similar source which noted that most supermarket “generic” brands now equal the name brands for quality, across a wide swath of products. So, you’re basically throwing money away and succumbing to marketing power if brand name constitutes the basis of your grocery purchases. Thanks, though; that’s why I own stock in the big-name consumer products and food companies, because of folks like you.

        Trader Joe’s is supplied by many “name-brand” suppliers, but, you’d never know it, because they demand near-secrecy from their suppliers, as well as house-brand labeling. I would also submit to you that Trader Joe’s products can hold their own as far as quality with respect to any of the name brands, and, probably beats them in most cases. But, to each their own…

      • this must have been written by a PR firm.

    • TJ’s is basically a gentrified Aldi (because it’s the same company) and some locations are better than others. But they are convenient and relatively inexpensive, but certainly not an alternative to a full scale grocery store.

      Given the batshit crazy line out front, I bet they’ll have trouble keeping shelves stocked. I’ll stick to getting a Zipcar and going to the Old Town one.

      • The companies are actually separate, and if I recall correctly, owned by rival brothers. (I guess I could google it …) I think of Aldi as the alternate-universe Trader Joe’s.

        • Yeah technically two different companies Aldi Noerd and Aldi Sued, but the general business models are the same. One has horse meat, the other has zucchni pairs packaged in styrofoam.

          But do love me some candy cane Joe Joe’s

      • wtf is a full scale grocery store. whole paycheck definitely isnt. i *heart* tj’s and i know it isnt, but i get a lot of what i need for cheap including less inexpensive avocados and tomatoes. same brand as whole paycheck and a lot less. the person going on about cheap whine is a clueless poseur. lots of awesome unoaked/oaked wines in europe sell for between 1.5 – 5 euro (in stores no less and thats without a “growler”). more expensive is not always better and organic – well – im sure you like all natural products too….

    • not the only one, but relatively few people chose to rain on others parade. just move on to another more appealing post.

    • No, I also don’t get it. I’ve only been once and only bought a couple of things there. I would probably shop TJ more often if there was one closer to home, but I have Costco close by and Wegman’s not too far away. I’ve also never been inside a Whole Foods.

    • It’s partly about context. D.C. has a paucity of grocery stores, so, any new store of quality is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. TJ’s is a great destination for pantry staples (pasta, sauce, grains, nuts, oil and vinegar, jams, crackers, tea, coffee, cereals, soymilk, etc), has rock-bottom beer and wine prices and a pretty damn good cheese section, too. The produce selection is more limited, but, also features great prices on veggies and fruits that are often more expensive at Whole Foods. Throw in happy employees and a fun vibe and it all adds up to why the stores are so popular and successful.

      • Also, TJ’s sells many unique, house-branded items (mochi ice cream balls; speculoos cookie butter;) that are inspired by international tastes and which appeal to adventurous people, and other great ones that aren’t (corn salsa), and, their prepared meals (both frozen and non) are generally quite good, too. Lastly (this is the dangerous part), there is no better place to stock up on munchies-type snacks and sweet-tooth cookies, chocolates, etc.

        • I concur on all but one point: That corn salsa is TERRIBLE! (They add sugar, for crying out loud! I prefer something with a little more heat on my quinoa & black bean tortilla chips…)

    • Having grown up out west where TJs are everywhere, I find them utterly meh for anything but snacks and cheap wine. So, no, you’re not the only one.

    • lovefifteen

      @StatingtheObvious Hopefully you aren’t the only one that dislikes Trader Joe’s because they already have too many customers as it is.

  • Is there only street parked?

  • So, just how nuts is it there? I work a few blocks away, does anyone think there might be a moment of the day that it’s not wall-to-wall?

    • It really wasn’t THAT insanely mobbed. I was there for opening. Crowded, yes, but, equivalent to a Sunday morning rush, maybe, just more festive, with employees handing out lei’s and milling about chatting with customers. So, if you want to stop by to buy something, or, just to check out the scene, I would do so.

      • Thanks! I think I’ll check it out. I’m fine with crowds, just didn’t want to find myself in one of those conveyer belt lines where you’re basically in one giant line from the entrance to the cashier, putting items in your cart as the line passes them.

      • Agreed! I went and it was quite fun and not crazy busy.

  • Went by, it’s much closer to me than the one in Foggy Bottom. Did anyone else go and did the prices seem a little higher than the Foggy Bottom location? Maybe I’m crazy…

    • Do you have any examples?

      • Must be craziness. TJ’s has universal prices for their items, since they all come from the same places. Besides, logically, Foggy Bottom/Georgetown prices for everything should be higher than than U Street, demographically speaking.

  • It was not packed at 10:00 a.m. And they have such nice wide aisles (unlike the Bailey’s Crossroads location). This cookie butter I bought better be as good as ya’ll said it was….

  • Ever since the abduction, Charles Shaw as been the only thing that makes it feel OK to look into the night sky again without wondering…hoping?…for one last trip.

    Chuck keeps me grounded and patient.

    Until the signal comes again.

  • I have a huge weakness for the Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. One container can easily equal a serving if I’m not careful!

  • I did it! I went!! I made it out alive!!

    No but really it’s actually fine. I didn’t wait in line at all to check out.

    As for the crowds, on a scale of ‘the Metro during a Fed snow day’ to ‘the Tidal Basin during the warmest Saturday of the Cherry Blossom Festival’, I’d rank it a ‘Columbia Heights Giant on a Sunday morning’.

  • I took my morning calls from work allowing me some time to dash into TJ’s. My report:

    1. I drove, although it’s only one block from my house. I wanted to check out the parking garage. Really!
    2. You get offered a lei when you enter. Your inner 12 year old may snicker now.
    3. The average age of the shoppers went up by 20 years when I arrived. Where are the other baby boomers who crave Cookie Butter and $3 wine?
    4. The staff were all peppy and friendly. Think Disney World without rides or soulless Orlando.
    5. The aisles were very wide which made for a pleasant shopping experience.
    6. It appeared to me that it has a larger produce and meat section than other TJs. Also there was less of the scary one-green-pepper- in-plastic-wrap variety.
    7. Prices for hummus and nut butters seemed VERY reasonable. During my recent UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT I lived on hummus and nut butters and they can get pricey!
    8. Cookie Butter was on the bottom shelf. Say what? Sorry about pushing that mom and toddler aside but seriously, this stuff is not for children.
    9. I hate to start an ugly rumor but I didn’t find any mini frozen tacos. Or is this a PoP joke to have dozens of PoP’ers demanding a nonexistent product?
    10. They had all 15 registers open but I can see how this is going to be a cluster when it gets crowded.
    11. You are offered a free shopping bag as you check out.
    12. I spent $27 and still have nothing for dinner tonight.

    • Excellent report, love #9. I’ll have to make sure to ask about the (non-existent) mini-tacos!

      • They exist!!! Look near the tamales… Or maybe with appetizers, I am not familiar with the layout of this new store yet… Have been a fan of their mini tacos for years though!

  • What the heck is cookie butter?

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