No More Driving to Emeryville, Now that there’s a Trader Joe’s Down the Street

29 Oct

As I’ve written here before, I used to make the drive out to Emeryville periodically to stock up on cheap goods at their Trader Joe’s, but I was never happy about it. So I got worried back in June when I heard that permits to sell alcohol were being held up by the planning commission for both of the planned Trader Joe’s in Oakland, unless they opened up their stores to unionization. I never heard the resolution to that issue, but something gave because both the Rockridge and the Lakeshore store opened on Friday.

Though I was pretty stocked up on food, I walked down to the store on College yesterday to check it out. I’m not sure I can explain how good it felt to walk through my neighborhood, instead of driving to Emeryville, to purchase groceries.

When I arrived though, I realized that most of the store’s customers had not arrived their by foot, bus or bike. The parking lot was packed. Given, it’s a pretty small lot for a TJ’s, but there were at least six cars circling when I arrived and about as many doing the same when I left. I can already tell that this is going to be an ongoing problem, unless more people decide to trade in their cars for a more environmentally friendly (and enjoyable) mode of transit.

But inside, the store did not feel crowded. Sure, I had to reach over someone to grab a salad. But carts weren’t running into me. Lines didn’t reach half-way towards the back of the store. I meandered through the wine aisles, practically alone, as if I was in a private cellar.

I picked up my few items and jumped into the 12 items or less lane, which moved pretty quickly. Still, the couple in front of me was complaining about how long they were waiting and even considered ditching their items and leaving. Considering I made it through the line in 10 minutes, I figured they must have never been to the Trader Joe’s in Emeryville, where I usually expected to wait at least 20 minutes in line (and that was after attempting to maneuver through overly crowded aisles, only to find that they were out of half the items I was looking for).

The cashier was friendly, and I got to enter into a raffle for a $25 gift certificate because I brought my own bags. Not bad, compared to the 5 cent rebate Whole Foods offers.

I left the store happy, but not not completely content with the contents of my shopping bags, so I walked a couple blocks to Market Hall, where I bought some fresh Acme bread and a couple of delicious cheeses. On my walk back home, I realized that with Trader Joe’s, Market Hall, Whole Foods, and the Temescal Farmer’s Market all with in walking distance of my house, I have few excuses left to keep my car.

On a related note, since the Whole Foods opened on Grand, the Whole Foods in Berkeley has quieted down quite a bit. There are always parking spaces available, and there are rarely any lines at all. In fact, I sometimes feel rushed at the counter because I can’t unload as fast as the cashier can ring me up! I’m glad there’s finally a grocery store balance in many parts of the East Bay, and West Oakland’s People’s Grocery will soon even it out even more.

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