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Review of Trader Joe's Grocery Market, Cary, NC

Article By: Andrew B. Davidson - andrewdavidson/at\andrewdavidson/dom\com
Copyright © 2006 Andrew B. Davidson. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: December 2006
Trader Joe's is a unique grocery market that just opened (as of November 2006) a new location in Cary, North Carolina. I am not affiliated with Trader Joe's in any way, I am just a regular shopper. This store is not far from where I live so I am very pleased that it opened. For the most information about Trader Joe's, visit Trader Joe's official web site.

Address

TRADER JOE'S
1393 KILDAIRE FARM ROAD
CARY, NC 27511
(919) 465-5984

Store Hours

According to their official site, the store hours are 9am - 9pm. I don't know about their holiday schedule.

Review

Trader Joe's in Cary is located in the shopping center on the corner of Kildaire Farm Road and SW Cary Parkway. It is in the shopping center right behind Wendy's and Boston Market. I think there was a Harris Teeter here before, or maybe a Winn Dixie. Whatever it was, the market was converted into a Staples and Trader Joe's. The Trader Joe's has really boosted this shopping center. I don't remember it being this crowded before! You can see below the satellite view/map of Trader Joe's in Cary. The picture must have been taken before Trader Joe's opened, because the parking lot looks empty! The parking lot is now absolutely packed when I go there. The market itself is usually packed too. There is obviously a lot of pent-up demand for gourmet and organic/healthy foods at prices that don't kill your wallet. There are a few Whole Foods Markets in this area, but their prices are now fairly outrageous compared to Trader Joe's. Hopefully Whole Foods prices will be readjusted to reflect the new competition, but I wouldn't count on it.
Trader Joe's is a rather unique supermarket. It is similar to Whole Foods in that they have the various gourmet and organic food selections, but the prices are a lot cheaper. But what makes Trader Joe's really unique is the large percentage of in-store brands. Most of them are labelled "Trader Joe's" brand, but there are few clever offshoots like "Trader Ming's" for the Chinese food, etc. The various Trader Joe's brands do not have any preservatives. Of the few that I have sampled, they are very delicious!
The Trader Joe's in Cary is not the biggest store around, it is rather small compared to other stores in the Raleigh/Cary area. However, due to the large number of unique products, it can take a little while to examine everything. Also, Trader Joe's regularly brings in new products, so hopefully there will always be new things to sample and enjoy.
Trader Joe's seems to be aiming for a more homey or old-fashioned feel. For example, the price labels all have that handwritten look instead of computer-printed bar codes. And when somebody needs a price check at the checkout area, they ring a bell instead of having computerized beeps and blinking lights. This is very clever marketing that is perfect for this area, and I'm sure they will succeed. Let's just hope they don't raise their prices!
I have tried a variety of the frozen foods and some of them are good, but others are not so great. I have had better luck with the snacks and chips, those were consistenly good, with unique flavors like bean tortilla chips and goat cheese potato chips. The cheese selection is nice and tasty, with a good selection of imports. Interestingly, they claim to be the largest retailer of brie in the US.
The one major downside of Trader Joe's is that they don't have everything. For example, they have very little produce and a small meat selection compared to most other stores, plus they don't have a hot bar or olive bar as you would find in stores such as Whole Foods. Also, I have found that some of my favorite foods have just disappeared from the store. I am hoping they are just out of stock but apparently there is large product churn so I am not hopeful. If you find something you love, you may want to stock up.

Pros

  • Good gourmet/organic foods selection (e.g. cheeses, breads, meats, etc).
  • Cheap prices (I estimate about 20-30% cheaper than Whole Foods and other markets, but obviously it varies by product)
  • Lots and lots of yummy Trader Joe's store brands available nowhere else.
  • Many other items that I haven't seen in other stores.
  • Trader Joe's brands have no preservatives.
  • Lots of new items appear regularly
  • Shoppers seem to be in a good mood, and employees seem friendly and happy.

Cons

  • Very crowded store, hard to maneuver the shopping carts around, although the wait to check out wasn't too bad.
  • Very crowded parking lot, but it is part of a larger shopping center so it's not impossible to find a spot. Just maybe not one nearby.
  • Store is small compared to other stores in the area and so there is a small produce selection, no hot bar or olive bar, and smaller wine selection
  • They don't carry all brands and staples that you may want, so you will probably need to go to a "regular" shopping market to complete your shopping.
  • Your favorite foods could just disappear without any warning one day

Map

Google Earth KML

Google Earth KML Location (Google Earth required)
Google Earth view of Trader Joe's in Cary NC Google Earth view of Trader Joe's in Cary NC

Comments? Feedback?

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