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Inside the Aisles of Trader Joe’s

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The newly opened Trader Joe’s in Forest Hills has created quite the buzz. The new Trader Joe’s takes up 17,000 square feet at 69-65 Yellowstone Boulevard, in our own Forest Hills neighborhood. Being one the biggest supermarkets in the neighborhood, it has been long awaited and as of Tuesday, Nov 7, 2023 the anticipation is over. The grocery store commemorated its inauguration with a ribbon cutting ceremony. As they kicked off their grand opening at 8 a.m., they will continue to operate all week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Trader Joe’s. Who is Trader Joe? The name behind the grocery chain is not a mythical figure from folklore, but based on a real person named Joe Coulombe. According to the Trader Joe’s official website, the first Trader Joe’s store was opened in 1967 by Coulombe in Pasadena, California. Coulombe started the store off as a grocer that offered affordable products that were not found in traditional convenience and grocery stores. For many years, Trader Joe’s was only a Southern California specialty but when Joe Coulombe realized its potential he expanded the grocery store nationwide.

Trader Joe’s is loved because it sells its own private-label products. By selling products that are exclusive to the store, Trader Joe’s customers keep coming back to see what’s new. Trader Joe’s is known for its affordable fancy cheeses, wine, produce, and more. The chain also manages to keep its costs low, so the private label options are not only top-tier quality but have reasonable prices, too. Along with their own brand, the company also adds variants of the label as a nod to their international manufacturer—the “Joe’s” on the labels for foods from different parts of the world. For instance, foods from Mexico have a “Trader Jose” label, and “Trader Mings” for Asian food.

As our Beacon staff entered the freshly inaugurated store, it hustled and bustled with people getting ready for Thanksgiving. There was unique and intriguing artwork on the eternity of the walls to attract consumers. Adding a touch of local flavor, the artwork adorning the store’s walls is the creation of one of the store’s employees. The artwork pays tribute to Forest Hills’ rich history in graphic novels. Highlighting the unique bond between the store and its locality, Carlos Salazar, a store manager shared that Forest Hills has a deep history with comic books. The murals spread across the walls of Trader Joe’s are inspired by comic books. There are murals representing different parts of the neighborhood. 

“We try to build a strong sense of community within the store and this is just one of the ways of us doing that with our customers,” Salazar shared with The Beacon. 

The store encompasses three floors, but all the shopping is done on the lowest level. Customers can use either the escalator or elevator to descend to the main shopping area. Upon entering, customers are immediately greeted by shopping carts and cash registers, which also include self-checkout options. The scent of fresh flowers welcomes customers as they enter, with a display adorning the wall against the staircase leading down to the main shopping level

Trader Joe’s offers a diverse selection of products, bringing flavors from France to Japan right to the aisles in Forest Hills. Among their most sought-after items are the Japanese Style Fried Rice and Kimbap, items so popular that, according to Salazar, “We can’t keep enough on the shelf.” 

The store’s commitment to cultural diversity extends to its produce section, where shoppers can find an impressive range of fresh, colorful tomatoes and sweet, tangy mandarins. This wide variety of offerings not only reflects the store’s global reach but also caters to the diverse tastes and dietary preferences of the Forest Hills community.

Adding to the charm of the shopping experience is Trader Joe’s iconic Fearless Flyer, a unique blend of a
newsletter, catalog, and comic. The colorful pages, bursting with fascinating and amusing product stories, serve as a guide to the store’s popular seasonal products, including special deals or promotions. The flyer comes out every month, found on the Trader Joe’s website and in stores. At this location, you can find it in the corner of the second floor right before the escalators. The setup features a chalkboard painted by the same creative employee who decorated the rest of the store. Loyal customers can even subscribe to receive each edition directly to their emails. 

Not only does the store accommodate the taste of the people in the neighborhood, but it has received a positive community response since it opened its doors. Many residents are thrilled about the convenience it provides and are making the most of having a Trader Joe’s within walking distance. Anonymous shopper expressed, “We haven’t had any negative experiences here. It’s been only good, it’s been great honestly. I’m really happy that it’s here.”

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About the Contributor
Bhargavi Patel
Bhargavi Patel, Entertainment/Lifestyle Section Editor
Bhargavi, a junior in the Carl Sagan program, has a diverse set of interests that keep her busy. She finds joy in crocheting, painting, reading, writing, and learning different languages, and she's a bit of a TV show enthusiast, not hesitating to rewatch her favorites. Bhargavi's involvement within The Beacon allows her to unleash her creative side and express herself. Her primary aim is to create a stronger sense of community among the readers and ensure inclusivity for all. Beyond The Beacon, she is an active member of multiple school clubs, including the Filipino Club and Cybersecurity Club. She's also joined her friends to launch the Caribbean Club. Furthermore, she's a member of the Case Academy.
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