Trader Joe’s virgin


(Tenaya Tremp)

By Claire Conger

I have a confession. You’re probably going to want to sit down. Maybe even have a medical professional present in case of severe shock. It doesn’t seem that bad to me, really, but based off of reactions I’ve gotten in the past, you’re probably not going to like it. Here it goes. Never in my sixteen years on this planet … have I been to Trader Joe’s. I know, I know. Take a breath. It’s going to be okay. 

Growing up, my mom and I would walk down the street to buy our groceries at DeLano’s market, the store in Tam Valley that became Good Earth. If we didn’t shop there, we’d go to the Whole Foods downtown. At eight or nine years old, I first discovered the off-brand foods that Trader Joe’s had to offer at a friend’s house. We ate their twist on Oreo’s, Joe Joe’s, by the handful, savoring each bite and laughing at the toucan cartoons that decorated the side of the box. I told my mom all about wonderful snack I’d found that day, but “Trader Joe’s is too far away,” she said, crushing my first attempt to enter the world of Trader Joe’s.’

In the following years, my exposure to the Trader Joe’s brand became more and more frequent. At school, I was surrounded by peers who would consume Trader Joe’s religiously. Trader Joe’s ready-made frozen lunches, Trader Joe’s snacks, Trader Joe’s this, Trader Joe’s that. My Whole Foods 365 brand lunches seemed to be at the bottom of the trade hierarchy during lunch.

In middle school, I tried again to convince my mom of Trader Joe’s wonderful, off-brand magic. “Too much plastic,” she fired back at me. How was I supposed to refute that? My only option as an immobile tween was to just accept it. So I did.

I’m now in my junior year of high school, and because all my best friends shop only at Trader Joe’s, the temptation is back. How could I resist their Scandanavian Swimmers, their take on my favorite Swedish Fish? But going to Trader Joe’s now seems so out of character. I’ve been built off Whole Foods brand and Good Earth organics. How could I start now?

When I confess my Trader Joe’s virginity, people respond in one of two ways: shocked or aggressive. Obviously, I prefer a shocked “How is that possible?” or “That’s so weird!” to the, unfortunately, more common “F**k you.” 

I’ve recently been approached with my first opportunity to visit a Trader Joe’s. My best friend is moving to a house in Corte Madera, where the Trader Joe’s is apparently situated. Until about a week ago when I was informed of the location of Trader Joe’s, I had no idea where the closest one was. Because my mom had told me so many years prior that is was ‘too far away,’ I had assumed it would be much farther than Corte Madera. 

I now live my life as a Trader Joe’s virgin who has only ever seen the store once. But soon, all that will change. Soon I will fit in, and I owe it all to peer pressure.