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Trader Joe's isn't a supermarket. That doesn't mean it's not a grocery store. It's worth comparing mission statements:

KROGER: "To be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health, and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services."

SAFEWAY: "We earn the loyalty of the people we serve by first anticipating, then fulfilling their needs with our superior-quality products, a unique shopping experience, customer-focused service and continuous innovation, while generating long-term profitable growth for our shareholders."

TRADER JOE'S: "The mission of Trader Joe's is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required for informed buying decisions."

Kroger is all about we'll dominate by selling you all the things. Safeway is We'll hook you with not sucking which will allow us to stay in business. Trader Joe's is There's nothing cheaper, check out my powerpoint.

Trader Joe's doesn't have a "supermarket" business model. They have a "low-margin high-profit" business model. They get their grocery products OEM'd by the big guys, under their own brand, at a low price... just like Walmart. If you aren't ADM or General Mills or whatever and they like your product they'll let you have your brand... for about six months. After that they'll buy you and rebrand you. There was a local outfit by me in North Hollywood called "the chocolate traveler." Their whole thing? Mediocre chocolate in a tin. Trader Joe's carried "the chocolate traveler" for six months and then it became Trader Joe's chocolate wedges.

Yeah, they carry a few staples but they are, in the lingo, "cart finishers." They're things that will do at prices that aren't offensive so that you will buy all your groceries at Trader Joe's. If they don't have it, you'll do without. Compare and contrast with Kroger: "we have fucking everything." Of course they're being squeezed by distributors, their labor keeps going up and their uber-shitty employee and public relations during the pandemic have made it so that it's an island of hatred full of Lay's bags so they're leaning heavily into anything that will make them a profit, too. What's funny to me is they've been doing a lot of lease buyouts lately; I think they're positioning themselves for private equity to swoop in, carve it up and parachute their executives to Antigua, leaving a smoking hole for most of America.

I wouldn't say TJ's is a store for people who don't know how to cook - but I would say that if you tell me it's your only grocery store? Then I know you don't know how to cook. There are anomalous products at TJ's that are dumbly cheap: wild rice is 20% what it costs anywhere else. They have gluten-free pasta made by I have-no-idea-who that cooks up better than Tinkyada. Their grated parmesan is a third the cost of anyone else's and their gluten-free bread is made by the same outfit as Kroger's in the same wrapper with a different name on it for 40% off.

If TJ's can get a deal on it, they'll buy it and sell it to you for enough to profit. And if it's something that you gotta have or else you'll wander over to Food Prison, they'll stock it damn near at cost. But no. They aren't going to stock much in the way of whole wheat flour.