10 Reasons To Love Trader Joe’s and 2 To Not

Trader Joes
There are many reasons to love Trader Joe’s, but here’s my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):



1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and “convenient”. 



2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium–like the “Belgium chocolate” above!



3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store. 



4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy–they’ve already narrowed the field for you. 



5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles–tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample–the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it–uh, not on my diet, but thanks!



6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done–tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up–ring, ring–a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick. 



7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don’t break on the way home and the goodies don’t fall out. 



8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside…never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line. 



9) They are eco-friendly and have lot’s of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything. 



10) They ask you–and seem to mean it–if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect. 



Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe’s that’s Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.



So it’s not the only store I go to–variety is still the spice of life. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

Fair Trade Principles Are Cool

So I was up in Harpers Ferry and discovered this cool boutique store called Tenfold.

The store carries a collection of creative “fair trade,” eco-friendly products from around the world.

They had a cool variety of clothing and accessories–that was different and special.

We all found something there to come back with and had to choose what we liked best.

I ended up getting a couple of handmade ties from a company called Global Mamas in Ghana and the girls got some skirts (and necklaces) made by Unique Batik in Thailand.

I liked the quality and design of the merchandise.

But more than that, I was truly impressed by the principles these companies adhere to under fair trade:

– Alleviate poverty and social injustice
– Support open, fair, and respectful relationships between producers and customers
– Develop producers’ skills, and foster access to markets, application of best practices, and independence,
– Promote economic justice by improving living standards, health, education, and the distribution of power
– Pay promptly and fairly
– Support safe working conditions
– Protect children’s rights
– Cultivate sustainable practices
– Respect cultural diversity

Note: Fair trade is not to be confused with free trade–the later being where government does not interfere with imports or exports by applying tariffs, subsidies, or quotas.

Truly, if we give people a chance to be productive under fair trade working conditions, they can make the world a little better one product at a time. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Putting the Donkey Before the Cart – Or Is He Sleeping Inside?

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I’d give this an A- on creativity, but a C- for practicality (especially in terms of creature comfort) — my butt hurts just looking at that seat. 🙂

Nevertheless, I appreciate the need to do more with less, and to create eco-friendly vehicles for the 21st century.

I’d like to see Toyota and Chrysler convert their minivans into something with the functionality that this rickshaw was trying to get at.

Who knows if Comanns is on to something with this?