DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Rockwall, Shopping, TRAVEL

Rockwall Needs a Trader Joe’s

Welcome to Dallas!


It happens more frequently than I want to admit.  I go to an event and come home the chairman of something.  Poor Bill!  That usually translates into imposing on him for something.  He rarely gets to just show up and enjoy anything.  Instead he ends up sitting at a table registering people, bringing an ice chest of iced beverages or staying afterwards to clean up.  It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it still happens.

Trader Joe’s Call-to-Action Meeting

So, my weekly Wednesday Bible Study was over.  We were gathering up our things to leave when a new member of the group asked me if I knew about Trader Joe’s?  Did I ever?  We discovered it when we lived in California, had been thrilled when they moved to Dallas and were loathe to leave it to move out here in the boonies.

Come to find out there was a community meeting that evening about getting Trader Joe’s to come to our area.  I assumed there would be a representative from the company there to test community’s interest, so I promised to go.  Instead, there were a few Rockwall city and county officials and twenty-five or so citizens.

One of the officials got up.  First, he explained the criteria most companies used to choose new locations and why we fell short of most companies prerequisites.  Then he talked about a development board that went after industrial-type companies to boost our economy and then explained why Trader Joe’s did not qualify for that program.  Finally, he let it be known that everyone was well aware there was a groundswell of interest in having a Trader Joe’s in the area, but there really wasn’t anything the city or county could or would do about it.

During his talk the man referred several times to the four or five items Trader Joe’s had on their list of requirements, but he never mentioned exactly what they were, how many we met and how far away we were from meeting the rest.  So I asked. He said he’d get us the information, but we haven’t seen it yet.

Then the meeting continued and we found out City of Rockwall Council Member Scott Milder and his wife Leslie had taken our interest a little further than the other gentleman.  They’d talked to a Trader Joe’s store manager and found out there were indeed criteria the company had for new locations (which the store manager didn’t know) but because of the company’s culture they paid a lot of attention to customer feedback – like location requests on their website, subscription addresses on their Fearless Flyer and social media.

The next thing  I know they are asking for someone to represent the community in our efforts to get the grocery chain to our area – the term they used was “point person.”  The room was suddenly very quiet.  Something told me the silence wasn’t going to go away and I also knew few in the room had as much experience with social media and organizing volunteers as I had.  I glanced at my husband to see what he thought and then raised my hand.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but Trader Joe wasn’t going to die from neglect on my watch.

My 15 Seconds of Fame
My 15 Seconds of Fame

Channel 8 News 

After the meeting I handed out my cards to anyone who wanted one and collected the list of attendees from Bethany Browning, the Community Relations Manager for the City of Rockwall.  I was suddenly in charge, but I was quite unsure exactly what that meant.  The rest of my week was very busy and the next time I even thought about Trader Joe’s was the following Tuesday.

My first call that morning was from Bethany.  Sebastian Robertson from Channel 8 News was coming out to talk to Scott about the Trader Joe’s meeting and the Facebook page.  Bethany thought it would be good to have a representative from the community there, so she called me.  My other choice for the morning was cleaning house, so I went to City Hall.

When he arrived, Sebastian took Scott outside and interviewed him.  The process took about twenty minutes and they pretty much covered everything that needed to be covered.  I thought I’d missed my fifteen seconds of fame.  We walked back into the building and into an office.  Sebastian sat me down and set up the camera.  I was about to be on TV, but I hadn’t combed my windblown hair or touched up my dry-as-a-desert lips.

The results of the interview are in this video: WFAA Channel 8 News.  I had been involved in the project for less than a week and I hadn’t done much of anything except show up for a meeting and hang out at city hall.  Still Sebastian made a star out of me, in spite of my windblown appearance.

Getting My Ducks in a Row

In the days since the interview I’ve been getting organized.  I sent out a few emails and posted some notices on social media sites.  That, along with Channel 8’s report has caused a flurry of activity on our Facebook page.  The page has gotten about a thousand likes since the meeting in early February.  The site had only gotten 2300 likes in the year and a half it has been up, so I’d call that progress.

Please like our Facebook Page.  You don’t have to be from the area and no salesman will call.  If you do live in the area, then check out our new webpage.  The site gives you a list of things you can do to help the cause and you can subscribe to stay abreast of developments.  If you’d like to really get involved, just let me know.  I’m sure I can find something for you to do!

I’m getting more organized every day, but I’m still making it up as I go.  If we get that Trader Joe’s in Rockwall County, I’ll let you know.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Trader Joe’s Comes to Dallas

Welcome to Dallas!


When you live in Dallas, no matter what it is you want to buy, you’ve got choices – especially groceries.  Dallasites newest grocery choice is Trader Joe’s.  Six years of California living made me a big fan of Trader Joe’s, so I’m glad one opened up last weekend.  It’s just up the road from me at Preston and Park in West Plano, but it’s got some tough competition, right at the same intersection.  You might say Trader Joe’s moved into Grocery Store Central.

Meeting Trader Joe

On the Central Coast of California, Trader Joe’s was the place to go for good cheap wine and while you were there, you could pick up a variety of interesting things.  As a part of the Aldi chain (which we’ve also got in Dallas), Trader Joe’s was known for having brands you’ve never heard of which would probably be better than the brands you had.  At Aldi, this means they’ll be cheaper.  At Trader Joe’s it might be cheaper, but it was also greener, healthier and always funkier.

Of course, on the Central Coast, there wasn’t much in the way of competition.  Ralph’s, part of a big chain, was your usual major supermarket.  No surprises, but not much in the way of excitement either.  The only other choice was Scolari’s, a smaller, more local chain.  It was a little more off-beat, but not quite unique.  Trader Joe’s offered a refreshing change from name brands and familiar packaging.  I hope it does well here in Dallas.  I know I’ll be shopping there frequently.  They really do a great job in the wine and beer department.  They also have outstanding frozen entrees.

Grocery Store Wars

But I’m still worried.  How does a new kid like Trader Joe’s face down the big guns?  Right there, on the other side of Preston, is the mother of all funky grocery stores, Whole Foods Market.  Until recently, my husband’s primary criteria for groceries was price, so he would have had a conniption fit if he saw me unloading bags of pricey groceries from Whole Foods Market.  That was until he started having high blood pressure.  Now he’s Whole Foods newest fan and I’m having to learn to shop in a whole new way.  Still, we only go there for very specific items, that we can’t get anyplace else.

MY grocery store!

I’m not exactly a health nut and I’m not the greenest of consumers, but I’m a big fan of service.  That’s why you’re most likely to find me grocery shopping at Market Street.  It’s on the same intersection, catty corner to Trader Joe’s.  Market Street has more pizzazz than your basic supermarket chain, but still has all those supermarket things you want to pick up while you’re out getting food – at a price which doesn’t feel like you’re being punished for abandoning Walmart.  It gives Whole Foods a hard run on the healthy and green stuff, too.  But it’s the service that keeps me coming back week after week after week.  I’ve never been to a grocery store that was friendlier or more helpful.  I don’t feel like I’m just going to grocery shop.  I feel like I’m going to visit some friends and they’re just dying for me to get there because they live to serve and I’m their favorite person in the world.  (Just so you know, I realize I’m not their favorite person in the world, but they sure know how to make me feel like it.)

Also on the same intersection is Tom Thumb.  For years and years Tom Thumb was my grocery store, but then one of the big chains bought it and now it’s just another supermarket.  (yawn)  The merger happened while I was out in California, so I felt like I’d come home to discover a good friend died while I was away.  I used to buy bakery goods and other prepared foods there for potlucks and spreads.  When asked for a recipe, I’d say my Uncle Thomas made it for me, because I didn’t have time.  You have no idea how many times I actually got away with it.  Though it’s no longer my grocery store, they still get some of my business by proximity.  Even though the intersection of Park and Central is only a couple of miles down the road from me, there’s actually another Tom Thumb even closer, so I run there for emergency supplies.

You can’t talk Grocery Store Wars in Dallas without mentioning Central Market and there’s one three and a half miles away from Grocery Store Central.  Shopping at Central Market is an event.  Their produce section is almost larger than the entire new Trader Joe’s.  There’s a long aisle behind produce where gourmet meats stare down gourmet seafood.  The wine and beer choices are prodigious (but I bet the Trader Joe choices are more interesting and more likely cheaper).  The bakery is a wonder of gorgeous, delicious things to eat.  More cheese choices than you can shake a stick at.  A huge prepared food area with marvelous things to take home and enjoy or just take to the nearby seating area.  I love Central Market, but I wouldn’t go there to get a loaf of bread and a carton of milk.  It would just be too much of a hassle.

Of course, we have Kroger, Target, Sam’s, Costco, Aldi and Walmart – all very close to my house – as well as lesser known chains like Sprouts or Fiesta.  I go to another Kroger’s with Mom every week, but it’s about the pharmacy, not the groceries.  I have the Target Red Card, so I get 5% off everything I buy there.  When all I’m looking for is non-food name brand stuff, like cosmetics and cleaning supplies, I’ll go to Target, but their food buyers haven’t pegged me yet.  With only two of us in the household, buying in bulk from Sam’s or Costco doesn’t make sense.  There’s an Aldi on the way home from my parents’ place with an easy in and out, so I’ve been known to drop by and pick up something there, but I don’t get the whole bagless and rent-your-cart thing.  Then I hate Walmart, but that’s another story for another day.

So which grocery store is your grocery store and why?  Do you make pilgrimages to certain stores to pick up hard-to-find or one-of-a-kind items?  Are green, biodegradable and healthy important in your decision making or is cost the primary factor?  What about brand manes?  What’s your role in the Grocery Wars?