Trader Joe’s first came to Hewlett at the beginning of the decade. It was a funky place then as it is now – the employees all wore floral shirts, there were samples of food (something I was only accustomed to see at Costco, but that’s another post), they had a large section of cheese.
But what won me over was, of course, the fact that the food at Trader Joe’s is damn good.
The produce is fresh, the crackers and nuts are rarely, if ever, stale, and the cheese is wonderful (and the macaroni and cheese is close to euphoric). Some of the products are quite interesting (there was one cheese that was a hybrid of fontina and asiago that was absolutely incredible), but most are your standard grocery products – and are often the same price (if not cheaper!) as standard grocery products (on occasion, you have to pay a tad bit more, but for a great increase in quality). And they guarantee that you’ll enjoy the product, or you get your money back – enabling you to try some of the more interesting stuff they have (like mango salsa).
It also helps that they’re quite a down-to-earth bunch there. Their circulars (“The Fearless Flyer”) have vintage drawings; they have different names for their ethnic products (Trader Jose, Trader Giotto, Trader Ming, &c.); they have trivia about Hewlett and the Rockaway Peninsula on their walls; they change things up about four times a year to allow for people to find new products; they have stickers and balloons, for goodness’ sake.
I don’t know if it’s just because it’s a smaller-town store (I haven’t yet been to the Union Square 800-pound gorilla of Trader Joe’s), but it’s a store with great food at a great price.