Trader Joe’s

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Trader Joe’s is a small grocery store which provides “high quality foods and beverages at honest low prices”. The quoted word is taken from its paper shopping bag (unlike Aldi, its bag is free). Recently Trader Joe’s is growing very fast and I remember reading a magazine article talking about business model and growth.

Seeing is believing. A few days ago, after dinner, I stopped by its newly opened store in Creve Couer. The store is right across street from Dierbergs, one of the largest and oldest grocery stores in St. Louis area. Except I had minor problem locating its entrance, I was very pleased with my shopping experience. There are varities of food, from cheese, bread, fruits, vegetable, meats, to beverages, and beers. The price is close to Schnucks’ (another grocery store in the area, considered as middle range), i.e., it’s cheaper than Diebergs. But the quality is not discounted. Not to mention the service. I like the way they ring the bell (the real bell), the corner tasting table (free coffee, cookies, etc.), and the friendliess of cashier. It’ like a neighbourhood store, as oppose to the big chain store like Wal-mart or Sam’s club. I noticed there are a few neighbourhood drug stores on the Olive street, despite WalGreen’s store ubiquitous apprearnce. I guess the mom-pop stores still have customers and business, otherwise how can they keep open.

The other day I listened to a talk given by a former CEO of Honeywell, he talked about some trends in the business, including the disruptive effect of giant retailers such as Wal-mart on mom-pop stores, globalization (moving of manufacturing jobs from US to China), etc. The business is tough. But he also has a good attitude. I believe Trader Joe’s management are smart people and know what they are doing. They find the niche, noting not everybody goes to Sam’s club or Derbergs just for a few things. I guess this kind of innovation is the way to go in the increasingly competitive world.

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