When name-dropping the grocery store Trader Joe’s in casual conversation, odds are at least one person will gasp and then respond, “I love Trader Joe’s!” The grocery store with a large following opens today at 5000 Settler’s Market Blvd., minutes away from Monticello Marketplace on the Red line on the Williamsburg Area Transit bus route. The store will be celebrating its grand opening all weekend long, with raffles for free groceries, tons of samples and special prizes.
Trader Joe’s caters to those who crave organic and world food.
“While Bloom has a really small section of organic and natural products, Trader Joe’s is that little section multiplied by a lot,” Virginia Jenkins ’10, head of the foods group in the Student Environmental Action Coalition at the College of William and Mary, said. “You have a lot more options and a lot of them are considered more environmentally friendly and economical overall.”
Some of Trader Joe’s specialty items include crab cakes, dried mango slices and Double Rainbow Ultra-Chocolate ice cream. The store will give students more grocery shopping options than the current choice between Ukrops and Bloom.
“I know their olive oil and balsamic vinegar is good,” Jenkins said. “You can get it in huge amounts and it’s really, really cheap compared to other stores. I use olive oil in all of my cooking, so that’s one thing I’m excited about Trader Joe’s coming for.”
Gillian Schefer ’12, a self-professed Trader Joe’s fanatic, has a few favorite things as well. “The popcorn is the best,” she said. “Plus their ‘Two Buck Chuck’ wine … if you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about.”
Many believe the best place to go for local produce will always be the farmer’s market.
“With farmer’s markets, you can see the farmers and talk to them, and you know where it’s coming from,” Jenkins said. “I can’t imagine that Trader Joe’s would stop selling vegetables in the wintertime, so it doesn’t encourage people to preserve their food, to stock up on local food and go through all of that.”
This Trader Joe’s marks the eighth grocery store to be built in the Williamsburg-James City County area.
When asked about the constant expansion in relation to the store’s opening, Jenkins had mixed feelings.
“The rampant development of Williamsburg, starting from Target and going from there, just seems like it won’t stop,” she said. “Each development is pushing and stressing the ecosystems a lot more, and that’s a big problem unless you consider the fact that they provide alternatives to the things that an environmentally conscious person might feel better about purchasing.”
Despite the downsides, there’s no doubt that Trader Joe’s is the place to be for students looking for an eclectic and organic mix of low-priced foods, from heirloom tomatoes to Bordeaux pastries.
The Trader Joe’s opening celebration extravaganza continues all weekend and will help bring more organic products to the area, thus appealing to the students striving for a healthier diet. “Organic was the way of the past, but now it’s the way of the future,” Ben Singer ’12 said.