Tonawanda News

Columns

October 17, 2013

KEPPELER: What's the fuss over Trader Joe's?

Tonawanda News — I told myself I was going to wait a week. At least. Maybe more like a month. At least until all the hubbub calmed down and the traffic wasn’t a pain.

So I told myself.

Instead, there I was. Standing outside the shiny new edifice on Niagara Falls Boulevard, watching person after person emerge with laden bags and carts stuffed to the brim, and wondering just what the fuss was with this Trader Joe’s place, anyway.

Friends and family from previously TJ’s-blessed locations of the country sang its praises. The organic and vegetarian options! The quirky finds! The cheap wine! Although the last of those wasn’t yet to be in the Amherst location due to state “blue” laws, I was just too curious not to check it out. 

The traffic wasn’t bad. Which doesn’t mean I want to set foot near the place once the holidays roll around, but that’s a long-standing conviction for me about Niagara Falls Boulevard. Neither was the parking lot. And there I was. On the verge of the promised land.

We would see.

Like so many other people in the area, I had to smile a little when the Kenmore Village Improvement Society started its campaign to bring the store to the village. I admired the enthusiasm, I liked the goal; I just didn’t find it very likely. Now, I can sort of see it. I had a mental vision of Trader Joe’s as a behemoth of stores, a monster among food purveyors. It must have been its reputation.

The store on Niagara Falls Boulevard? In reality it’s tiny by today’s grocery store standards. Smaller than Tops, smaller than Wegmans, smaller than Budwey’s or the grocery store in my hometown where I worked as a teenager. Add that to the still new-store congestion and it felt even smaller. Shiny and new and colorful (the murals referencing local sites are a nice touch), but small.

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