Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by veteran+ »

ClownLoach wrote: March 25th, 2024, 11:34 am
storewanderer wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 10:13 am
veteran+ wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 10:05 am For a company that seems to be expanding at a quicker rate lately, they sure do seem to have a problem with noticeably increased product recalls (as reported all over).

Not that this is connected but just sayin.............................

🤷‍♂️
And out of stocks... I have reduced how often I shop there due to not finding what I go in for so many times... but the stores seem busier than ever and their prices are lower than the conventional grocers.

I wonder how the distribution system will handle the expansions.
They are building a massive new distribution center in the Lancaster-Palmdale area. Not sure where else.

Ordering is 100% manual at Trader Joe's. Those who are trained on ordering have the sales data at their fingertips along with availability that updates daily. There are no planograms and the stores generally have very little back room space (if any) so overstock is a serious problem. Some top volume stores have morning and evening trucks and order twice a day. We should all be happy that Trader Joe's doesn't automate this work, a vast difference between their Aldi cousins.

So what tends to happen is one store decides that they want to make an endcap of 3 Cheese Pasta Sauce so they order 300 cases because it's an existing item that isn't inventory constrained. Their buddy who runs the store across town hears it worked well and does the same. Suddenly they create "haves and have nots" as these few stores deplete the warehouse and the item is now constrained to whatever number of cases arrive daily or weekly until back stock is built in the warehouse again. Now every store can only order 3 cases a day regardless of how much they sell while the buyer has asked the vendor to push a extra large order of 5,000 more cases to the warehouse next month so things stabilize. Meanwhile, those big endcaps at the few stores that remained in stock dwindle down and eventually need to change out to something else. Since there isn't another "Fearless Flyer" with new featured items to be ordered until next month, now the Manager decides he's going to change that into an Alfredo sauce endcap and orders 300 cases. And tells his buddy at the store across town... You can see how this creates these localized out of stock issues.

But I'd rather have the stores be different, creative, and cater to the local community as they are today versus becoming another boring Aldi clone. Plus the entire concept is the bottom third of SKUs are changed out to something else annually so they fully intend for you to (hopefully) find two or three new items you just have to buy every time you come in, even if one item is out of stock or has been discontinued. Obviously it works for them as they seem to be able to have enough labor to stock shelves 24/7 if necessary in the smaller, busier stores, as well as the capital needed to build additional stores to spread out the business elsewhere and create a net positive in overall sales each time they expand.
I have been to many TJs backrooms. Tiny and so full there is barely enough room to walk. I do not know how they pass inspections. Safety hazard after safety hazard. I always wondered how they rotate all that stuff piled so high with another truck waiting to be unloaded.
Last edited by veteran+ on March 26th, 2024, 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by storewanderer »

veteran+ wrote: March 25th, 2024, 2:57 pm
ClownLoach wrote: March 25th, 2024, 11:34 am
storewanderer wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 10:13 am

And out of stocks... I have reduced how often I shop there due to not finding what I go in for so many times... but the stores seem busier than ever and their prices are lower than the conventional grocers.

I wonder how the distribution system will handle the expansions.
They are building a massive new distribution center in the Lancaster-Palmdale area. Not sure where else.

Ordering is 100% manual at Trader Joe's. Those who are trained on ordering have the sales data at their fingertips along with availability that updates daily. There are no planograms and the stores generally have very little back room space (if any) so overstock is a serious problem. Some top volume stores have morning and evening trucks and order twice a day. We should all be happy that Trader Joe's doesn't automate this work, a vast difference between their Aldi cousins.

So what tends to happen is one store decides that they want to make an endcap of 3 Cheese Pasta Sauce so they order 300 cases because it's an existing item that isn't inventory constrained. Their buddy who runs the store across town hears it worked well and does the same. Suddenly they create "haves and have nots" as these few stores deplete the warehouse and the item is now constrained to whatever number of cases arrive daily or weekly until back stock is built in the warehouse again. Now every store can only order 3 cases a day regardless of how much they sell while the buyer has asked the vendor to push a extra large order of 5,000 more cases to the warehouse next month so things stabilize. Meanwhile, those big endcaps at the few stores that remained in stock dwindle down and eventually need to change out to something else. Since there isn't another "Fearless Flyer" with new featured items to be ordered until next month, now the Manager decides he's going to change that into an Alfredo sauce endcap and orders 300 cases. And tells his buddy at the store across town... You can see how this creates these localized out of stock issues.

But I'd rather have the stores be different, creative, and cater to the local community as they are today versus becoming another boring Aldi clone. Plus the entire concept is the bottom third of SKUs are changed out to something else annually so they fully intend for you to (hopefully) find two or three new items you just have to buy every time you come in, even if one item is out of stock or has been discontinued. Obviously it works for them as they seem to be able to have enough labor to stock shelves 24/7 if necessary in the smaller, busier stores, as well as the capital needed to build additional stores to spread out the business elsewhere and create a net positive in overall sales each time they expand.
I have been too many TJs backrooms. Tiny and so full there is barely enough room to walk. I do not know how they pass inspections. Safety hazard after safety hazard. I always wondered how they rotate all that stuff piled so high with another truck waiting to be unloaded.
They are counting on the shelves emptying out to hide any rotation shortfalls in many sections of the store.

I do see some heavy effort on rotation in produce/prepared heat and eat foods.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by buckguy »

storewanderer wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 10:13 am
veteran+ wrote: March 23rd, 2024, 10:05 am For a company that seems to be expanding at a quicker rate lately, they sure do seem to have a problem with noticeably increased product recalls (as reported all over).

Not that this is connected but just sayin.............................

🤷‍♂️
And out of stocks... I have reduced how often I shop there due to not finding what I go in for so many times... but the stores seem busier than ever and their prices are lower than the conventional grocers.

I wonder how the distribution system will handle the expansions.
Depends on the day of the week and whether there's a holiday----they run out of stuff predictably on weekends and right after a holiday. TJ's is on my way home from the Y so I stop-in as often as several times a week and I can usually predict what's there and what isn't, as well as the length of time before the pull dates on things like bakery and take away.

The heavy traffic/out of stock days are very similar in the other TJ's I occasionally visit. There's a lack of standard floorplans---my rather small store on 14th Street has the same selection (some times better) than the one in Rockville which has more floor space than it uses and is probably half again as large. It reminds me of what once was considered the flagship in Monrovia.

The truly tiny store near GWU carries an abbreviated selection of most things. They seem to be moving toward larger, more standard sized stores---the new in downtown Bethesda replaced a very tiny store (even more crowded that GWU because of a more awkward floorplan) and seems to be the same size as the new one near Union Market and both are similar to the newish one (a replacement) outside of Cleveland.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by SamSpade »

buckguy wrote: March 26th, 2024, 4:30 am They seem to be moving toward larger, more standard sized stores---the new in downtown Bethesda replaced a very tiny store (even more crowded that GWU because of a more awkward floorplan) and seems to be the same size as the new one near Union Market and both are similar to the newish one (a replacement) outside of Cleveland.
Off Topic
I agree. The new stores here are about the same size and layout. And, like the good ol' days in some other chain stores, I was generally able to quickly navigate their other stores *if* they are on the square/rectangle shape they've been using. The closest store to me is pretty small with angled aisles, but did absorb an adjacent retail space for employee space and additional alcohol display space. I prefer to go to one of the other two that are about 15 minutes away with high ceilings, standard-ish aisles, and one of the two still offers a demo.

As Trader Joe's has grown, I feel that some of the core items I used to buy have suffered. They stopped carrying akmak entirely... not sure if it was the bakery couldn't supply the quantity they wanted, or if they were insisting on private label rights. They even have "Dr. Bronner's" (style) soap private label now. The frozen individual items are still available, but it feels like on many of them, the quality suffered or new things are disappointing to me.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by veteran+ »

"As Trader Joe's has grown, I feel that some of the core items I used to buy have suffered. They stopped carrying akmak entirely... not sure if it was the bakery couldn't supply the quantity they wanted, or if they were insisting on private label rights. They even have "Dr. Bronner's" (style) soap private label now. The frozen individual items are still available, but it feels like on many of them, the quality suffered or new things are disappointing to me."

So true Sam!!!!

😡😡
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by rwsandiego »

SamSpade wrote: March 26th, 2024, 4:51 pm...As Trader Joe's has grown, I feel that some of the core items I used to buy have suffered. They stopped carrying akmak entirely... not sure if it was the bakery couldn't supply the quantity they wanted, or if they were insisting on private label rights. ...
Regarding ak-mak, I think it is the baker's decision. Looking at the ak-mak store locator, a handful of stores in San Diego and LA sell it, a few retailers (including one Vons) in the Central Valley do, but none in the Bay Area. The other place the product is distrubted is in pockets of the east, like DC, NYC, and NJ.

Out-of-stocks have always been a frustration of mine dating back to 2000 when I started shopping there regularly. These days, I shop there less than I used to because Safeway typically has the center-store items I would have otherwise bought at TJ's. I don't eat the frozen foods, so that was never a draw.

Long ago, Trader Joe's sold its own brand of peppermint castile soap. Then they switched to Doc Bronner's and now they are back to private label. I wonder if Doc Bronner's decision to start selling at Safeway, Kroger, CVS, and other mainstream stores interfered with their ability to supply Trader Joes. It could also have been a decision driven by price.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by storewanderer »

Seems to be quite a theme here of negative comments on in-stock conditions at Trader Joe's...

And the other thing is due to the limited assortment if they are out of stock on something, there is often not another suitable alternative...
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by veteran+ »

storewanderer wrote: March 27th, 2024, 12:49 am Seems to be quite a theme here of negative comments on in-stock conditions at Trader Joe's...

And the other thing is due to the limited assortment if they are out of stock on something, there is often not another suitable alternative...
Exactly!
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by bryceleinan »

veteran+ wrote: March 27th, 2024, 9:28 am
storewanderer wrote: March 27th, 2024, 12:49 am Seems to be quite a theme here of negative comments on in-stock conditions at Trader Joe's...

And the other thing is due to the limited assortment if they are out of stock on something, there is often not another suitable alternative...
Exactly!
Isn't this a reflection of sorts on their corporate ownership under ALDI Nord? At least in the ALDI Sud stores in the US, there aren't as many brands compared to a traditional supermarket, which is a reason their prices are relatively low on many things. While Trader Joe's is its own animal, the more I look at how they run things, it seems more of an upscale ALDI than anything. I saw some pictures from a friend in Germany of both of the ALDI stores (north and south), which seem to have almost identical formats, which I would expect to translate to other operations.
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Re: Trader Joe's opening in northern Idaho

Post by storewanderer »

bryceleinan wrote: March 28th, 2024, 8:48 pm
veteran+ wrote: March 27th, 2024, 9:28 am
storewanderer wrote: March 27th, 2024, 12:49 am Seems to be quite a theme here of negative comments on in-stock conditions at Trader Joe's...

And the other thing is due to the limited assortment if they are out of stock on something, there is often not another suitable alternative...
Exactly!
Isn't this a reflection of sorts on their corporate ownership under ALDI Nord? At least in the ALDI Sud stores in the US, there aren't as many brands compared to a traditional supermarket, which is a reason their prices are relatively low on many things. While Trader Joe's is its own animal, the more I look at how they run things, it seems more of an upscale ALDI than anything. I saw some pictures from a friend in Germany of both of the ALDI stores (north and south), which seem to have almost identical formats, which I would expect to translate to other operations.
I feel like the staffing model in Trader Joe's is radically different from any Aldi operation. Also the way Trader Joe's handles its stocking/shelves is very labor intensive. The Aldi formats throw the boxes on the shelves and don't maintain things much in their aisles until boxes empty.

I think other than product mix being limited and the store size being similar that is kind of where the similarities start to blur.

Not to mention location selection. You see Trader Joe's on some good real estate in large cities, really good real estate. You don't see Aldi Stores in those types of locations.
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