We have been fans of Trader Joe's for years. For those who have never been in one, Trader Joes is a specialty "local" grocery store chain specializing in low cost but high quality natural and organic foods: everything from specialty breads, to cheese, to frozen entrees, to fresh vegetables, to (where permitted by law) low cost but quite acceptable beer and wine.
It is always best to buy directly from the food or beverage producer at a Farmers Market or similar venue, but if you can't, I feel Trader Joes is a good option. I personally don't think fresh produce or meat is a strength of theirs: but if you want inexpensive organic mustard, or wonderful jarred tomato sauces, Indian foods, nuts, fruit juices, or all kinds of organic canned beans, they are your best bet.
We have been hoping against hope that Trader Joes would come to the Binghamton, New York area. Right now, there isn't a Trader Joes- no, not one - anywhere in upstate New York. Our nearest Trader Joes is in Westchestser County, just to the north of New York City - or, Danbury, CT. Both of these options are about a three hour drive from us.
Now, Trader Joes is going to open its first upstate NY store - in Rochester. (alas about 2 1/2 hours away from here.)
It will be opening near a Wegmans, a native-Rochester supermarket chain that also does a lot of buying from local farmers during our growing season, and also has a pretty decent "Nature's Marketplace".
This is nice for the people of Rochester, and I will be especially interested in seeing how they compete against Wegmans.
I still would like them to come to Binghamton - except I have a little dilemma about this.
We've been to several Trader Joes: besides Westchester County, NY and Danbury, CT, we've been to stores in New York City (right near the site of an awesome farmers market in the summer), a suburb of Atlanta, Centerville, VA, and Portland, Maine. For all the good things they sell - and their very friendly staffs - I haven't seen much evidence that they support local farmers in the fresh foods/breads/cheeses they do sell. Whereas, local health food stores often do support local growers.
This may not be fair - they do have to maintain a certain amount of volume. But perhaps they could feature some local foods in a "limited time only -speciality" area.
So, should I be waiting with eagerness for them to come to Binghamton?
I think so. As much as I like to have local health food stores, our area needs a low cost alternative very badly. And, I hope that Rochester is just the beginning - that they will be opening additional stores in upstate NY.
Hence, the dilemma. Local and more expensive? Or nationwide and cheaper?
I hate those choices.