A Hunting We Will Go
10 years after hearing about the great Trader Joe’s, “foodie fate” determined that I would finally visit Austin’s first Trader Joe’s. Thankfully my neighbors encouraged me to rideshare to visit Austin’s first Trader Joe’s on Grand Opening Day. Was I crazy enough to tackle the grand opening craze and the much welcomed – although super messy – rain all in one morning? You betcha!
What’s In Store
We arrived shortly after 10AM. The band was packing up and there were a lot of people flocking about wearing Hawaiian shirts, leis and Texas-sized smiles. Reading the Trader Joe’s website later I learned these people were the Trader Joe’s Crew Members (employees) who were hustling about. We noticed there were no shopping carts remaining. When we walked inside, I literally felt like I was inside a busy beehive. There were people everywhere. I quickly noticed there was no pulling of hair … No roundhouse kicks. No lunging for this or that. It was clear to me that Trader Joe’s knew how to turn potential pandemonium into organized chaos. Shoppers formed lines and carefully moved throughout the store. There was lots of laughing and I could almost see the sigh of relief on people’s faces knowing that Austin was no longer without Trader Joe’s.
The store was smaller in size than any of the lore shared by the TJ following. But what it may lack in size it offers in spirit and assortment across produce, floral, fresh and frozen foods, bakery, cheese, beer/wine and more.
Why Trader Joe’s Earned My Love … And Will Earn Yours
- The Floral Department. I was genuinely impressed by the quality, assortment and prices of TJ’s flowers. One of the best floral collections in Austin.
- 99 Cent Greeting Cards. Tucked next to the floral section are the cheapest cards we’ve found outside of ones we make by hand. With other stores offering greeting cards commanding $6, $7 or $8, it’s nice to find options that are easy on the wallet.
- Cheese To Please. Surprisingly affordable *and* tasty, we never leave without 2-3 chunks of gold. Gruyere, Italian Truffle, and Jalapeño Cheddar Pub Cheese are some of our favorites.
- Olive Demi-Baguette. Any olive-lover will surely love a loaf or two of this bread which is perfect for oil dipping. Word has it when we race around the corner only to find the store loaf-less, our hearts drop.
- Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce. Just when I thought nothing could top my long-time favorite Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Mustard, in walks this stuff … a new house staple! Try some of this sauce on gently-microwaved spinach and presto – you have a super-tasty salad in mere seconds.
- Cheddar & Horseradish Potato Chips. The slogan for this chip should be “Bet you can’t eat just one … BAG!”
- Cookie Butter. This is a gingerbread spread that’s way more versatile than the hazelnut chocolate stuff. Good thing a spoon wasn’t within reach or I might have had some pre checkout.
- Chocolate Croissants. Two words – try them. Don’t let the fact that you’ll find these in the frozen section deter you from enjoying their pure chocolatey greatness. Click the picture below for a close-up view of these coming out of the oven. Freshness!
- Raisin Rosemary Crisps. Calling these “crackers” is an understatement. “Crispy sweet and savory bites of Heaven?” That’s more like it.
- Bacon Cheese Bread. Enough said. Want the recipe? You can score it here.
- The Trader Joe’s Reusable Grocery Bag. The Texas proud design on this shopping tote meant three found their way home with me. Make sure and look at the bottom of the tote for a special surprise. I’m sending a tote or two to my Texas-loving friends in Italy and at $.99/tote I seriously think this makes a more clever and cheaper gift wrap than any other wraps I can find.
- No Weird Stuff. Contrary to the “Keep Austin Weird” T-shirts, when it comes to food ingredients, let’s leave out the weird. All of Trader Joe’s private label products contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, no msg, no synthetic colors, no genetically modified ingredients, no partially hydrogenated oils … you get the drift.
- New Treats. With 10-15 new products coming to store each week I know we’ll always be able to find new treats to delight our tastebuds.
I left with many goodies to last me at least a week or so and I’m already planning my return trip back for another adventure. I was so excited to see, learn and experience first hand what others told me about I decided to gift magic via hand-selected Trader Joe’s gift basket to each client of mine who lists or finds their new home with me.
What – am I crazy? For Trader Joe’s? You betcha! : )
~ Joe Paul Reider
Home Style Austin Founder
Keller Williams Realty, Inc.
PS ~ So where can you find all this goodness?
Trader Joe’s Austin (Rollingwood)
2805 Bee Caves Road
Austin TX 78759
Trading Hours: 8AM-9PM Daily
Two more Trader Joe’s stores are coming soon to Austin – The Arboretum and Downtown. Will I be there come opening day? You can expect it! Check Trader Joe’s website for store information and to sign-up to receive their newsletter.