Trader Joe’s brings mixed feelings
Students respond after new store opens near campus
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 21:10
Past the meringues and next to the cookie butter is a wealth of new choices now open to local residents.
On Oct. 11, Trader Joe’s, a grocery store chain, opened its doors locally. The trendy establishment offers organic and fair-trade items at low prices. Trader Joe’s has earned a reputation for its outstanding customer service, according to patrons. The 12,000-square-foot store is located at 1565 Niagara Falls Blvd., between I-290 and Maple Road in the Boulevard Consumer Square.
“In the town of Amherst, there’s been a lot of support for Trader Joe’s coming [here],” said Ken Gaytan, an 11-year Trader Joe’s employee and the new Amherst store captain. “We felt this was a really great city and fit for us as a company.”
The environmentally and socially conscious grocery store is known for its philosophy of traveling the world in search of the finest products and providing them to customers at a fair price, according to the store’s website.
Trader Joe’s was established in Pasadena, Calif., in 1967. For 46 years, it has expanded all over the country. In the mid ’90s, Trader Joe’s moved across the nation to Boston, Mass., and continued to open stores along the East Coast.
Today, Trader Joe’s has 403 locations in 35 states.
“We have a fun atmosphere, people first, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Gaytan said. “We love to have fun and share that enthusiasm with our customers.”
Trader Joe’s offers antibiotic-free meat and poultry and is a proponent of the Fair Food Program and the Fair Food Code of Conduct – initiatives that ensure the quality of the food and wellbeing of those who make the food.
The company is noted for its employee satisfaction and fresh products.
“Our products are privately labeled, so 90 percent of products we sell are under the Trader Joe’s employment label name,” Gaytan said. “Anything under those private labels is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. That’s one thing that makes us different: our quality of products.”
For established local grocery stores like Wegmans Food Markets, the new competition is not a pressing concern.
“Wegmans does not comment when new competitors move into the area,” according to an emailed statement from Wegmans spokesperson Jeanne Colleluori. “We simply choose to continue our focus on providing incredible service and helping our customers put easy, healthy, affordable meals on their tables.”
Student reaction to the Niagara Falls Blvd. location has been mixed. Some students are enthusiastic about the chain’s emergence in the area. One UB student gushed about the new store because she was able purchase meringues, which can be tough to find. Others are excited to peruse the store’s interesting assortment of products – some even said if you want “normal” groceries, you should head to Wegmans.
Some students expressed more concerned views about the potential impact Trader Joe’s could have on local businesses.
“I’m from Buffalo, so I’m more a fan of local things like the Lexington Co-op,” said Seamus Degan, a freshman biomedical sciences major. “I’ll go to more local places. I’m from around here and I know where to go. But in a pinch, yeah, I’d go to Trader Joe’s.”
Some are indifferent to the store.
“I’m not particularly excited that they’re coming,” said Nate Neuman, a senior urban planning major. “I usually focus my spending on local businesses in the city … I’m impartial to [Trader Joe’s]. I wish them well and I’m happy they’re here, but it’s not going to affect my shopping habits.”
Some are concerned the area may have trouble handling the increase in traffic. Up to 35,000 cars a day use Niagara Falls Boulevard, according to the Town of Amherst.
The attraction of Trader Joe’s also brings up the issue of transportation for students. Though the university does provide mall buses for students, the current routes won’t go to Trader Joe’s.
Yasmin Abdul-Malik, a freshman geology major, said she doesn’t have a car, but if she had a way to get to the new store, she “definitely” would shop there.
Trader Joe’s is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.