The very first Texas outpost of Trader Joe's opens tomorrow morning at 2701 S. Hulen in Fort Worth. The Monrovia, California-based specialty market has a cult following, with loyal devotees sometimes traveling hundreds of miles to stock up on Two-Buck Chuck ($2 wine that beats the pants off of Walmart's similarly priced Oak Leaf label). To date, Trader Joe's has more than 350 locations throughout the country, with seven more Texas stores slated to open in the next two years, including one on Lower Greenville Avenue this fall.
I, for one, am pretty damn excited, and I'm not the only one. This is bigger than In 'N Out, y'all, that other California-based chain that expanded into Tejas last year -- which has me wondering if we'll see any tears of joy when TJ's doors open for the first time.
Over at Pegasus News, Teresa Gubbins did an exhaustive comparison of Trader Joe's to other area markets; in a nutshell, they offer a wide selection of unique, high-quality products at bargain-basement prices. Plus, TJ's carries crazy stuff you're unlikely to find anywhere else (80 percent of their products are exclusive to TJ's stores only) like freeze-dried rambutans, coconut water frozen pops, and dark chocolate-covered edamame.
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They're a little quirky, too; the employees wear Hawaiian shirts, and the weekly ad circular reads more like the J. Peterman catalog than your typical grocery store flier.
I discovered the store a few years back when visiting Portland and quickly became obsessed with how many bottles of Thai Yellow Curry Sauce and bags of dried hibiscus blossoms I could stuff in my suitcase. I'll be making a pilgrimage to Fort Worth to stock up on those items, plus dried tart Montmorency cherries, dark chocolate pistachio toffee, and frozen falafel.
I'm waiting till next week when the dust has settled a bit, though. I have a feeling there's going to be quite a line by the time the doors open at 8 a.m. sharp.