Here in New York City, you have to time your Trader Joe's visit just right. Not because of specific store hours or difficult travel accommodations, but simply because it is so popular. Most of the time, lines form outside of the store just to get inside. Luckily, The Daily Meal offices are located in a prime Trader Joe's location, which makes lunch hour shopping trips an employee outing. But some states aren't as lucky and there are currently fifteen states without the popular grocery store.
Trader Joe's started as a small chain of convenience stores in Southern California during the 1950's called Pronto Markets. In 1969, the founder changed the name to Trader Joe's and made them into the popular stores that you know today. He revamped the stores to make them bigger, added the cedar plank décor, and initiated the trademark Hawaiian shirts that the employees still wear today.
So, what makes Trader Joe's so popular? Value is a concept that keeps Trader Joe's thriving, especially in expensive cities like New York. There aren't any gimmicks like coupons or store clubs, just great food and great prices. The quality products and low price tags keep the lines long and the customers coming back.
While Trader Joe's has expanded from California to thirty-four other states, there are still a few awaiting their first store. Trader Joe's opened its first store in Colorado in February of this year and plans on expanding to Idaho later in the month. Most of the Trader Joe's stores seem to be clustered on each of the coasts, but hopefully the popular grocery chain will expand to all of the United States — and a city near you!
Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.