Trader Joe’s, the chain of grocery stores with a cult-like following, now operates over 500 stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C. Nine years ago, it opened its first store in Colonie, an Albany suburb in upstate New York’s Capital Region.
Unlike other chains, Trader Joe’s is slow to add new locations. It’s taken nine years for Trader Joe’s to add a second store in this region of upstate NY. However, it’s no surprise that the chain’s additional location will be in Saratoga County (the fastest growing county in New York State) on the border between the sprawling suburbs of Halfmoon and Clifton Park, with easy parking for suburbanites.
Nine years earlier, it had required an organized campaign by consumers, led by a local college professor, to bring the national chain to the Albany, NY suburb of Colonie in the summer of 2012. The College of St. Rose Professor Bruce Roter sponsored field trips to the Trader Joe’s store two hours away in Amherst, Massachusetts to build up community support for a Trader Joe’s in the Albany area.
With savvy use of the local media, this campaign for a Trader Joe’s would result ultimately in the professor and other members of his group invited to the grand opening of the first store. Wearing T-shirts reading “We Brought Trader Joe’s to the Capital District!”, they welcomed legions of customers who poured into the new store in Colonie.
First word about the second Trader Joe’s planned for the Capital District appeared in a short article in the Albany Times Union back in February. No surprise, that soon thereafter, a letter to the newspaper from Bruce Roter was published. “Thrilled to learn the Capital Region will soon be getting a second Trader Joe’s” wrote Mr. Roter, who reminded readers that it required the efforts of thousands of area residents to bring the first Trader Joe’s to the Albany area.
Users of this website know that our goal is to promote local and sustainable agriculture. We’ve noted often that if you can’t grow your own food, the next best way to know where your food comes from is to join a farm community by signing up for a farm share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) family-scale farm. If a CSA farm share is not doable, the next best way to know where your food comes from is to shop at a farmers market. Patronizing a particular farm stand on a regular basis enables consumers to know how and where their food is grown and produced.
If none of these options are workable for a consumer, our recommendation is to shop at a food co-operative, and in the Capital Region, we’re home to the Honest Weight Food Co-op. The reasons for this choice are clearly explained in John Steinman’s Grocery Store, The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants.
Nonetheless, Trader Joe’s is on this consumer’s radar and, in particular, when traveling away from home, the store is a reliable stop for organic fruit and an organic plain whole milk yogurt, made from 100% grass fed cows. And its frozen Wild Boreal Blueberries from Quebec at the bargain price of $2.49 per pound have become a staple in my household. That’s an unbeatable price especially when the birds tend to consume much of the blueberry crop in my backyard home garden. And surprisingly, six years ago when we first spotlighted these blueberries, they were $3.49 per pound!
(Frank W. Barrie, 4/16/21)