Over the years my husband and I have moved quite frequently, and one of the first things I always consider when we do is what my grocery options will be ... or won't be. It may not be as vital as the property tax rates when making our decision, but for me, the markets can make or break a place.
I almost refused our most recent move from Seattle to Orlando because Florida did not have my favorite store. I simply couldn't imagine not being able to access its products that were staples in our lives, but with the promise that the chain would be popping up in the Sunshine state soon, I agreed. I've been sorry ever since, because since we moved five years ago there has been a seriously lack of popping going on down here, and I've been left in serious withdrawal.
So when I learned that a branch of my store was going up a couple of hours from my house in Sarasota, I rejoiced. Sure it was a hike (just under five hours round trip), and gas is expensive, but there were good groceries to be had. So I convinced my friend Michelle, who is also a fan of the store, to make the trek, and we packed up the coolers and headed out for what may be the longest grocery run ever.
Of course, it was not just any grocery store we were seeking; it was Trader Joe's. And if you're a fan, you likely understand my obsession. It's the land of reasonably priced organic fare and creative easy-to-make meals; a place that has corn dogs I'll actually let my kids consume (nitrate-free, low-fat, turkey corn dogs are a rare commodity!). I don't know how I have managed to live this long without it.
Not two minutes after we entered its welcoming doors, I heard a woman say, "I can't believe how good it feels to finally be back in this store!" and I shouted to her, "Me too!" Then we hugged and cried and ... okay not really, but we did talk about how it great it was for a minute.
It was bustling and crowed, but I found my old staple products (truffle brownie mix how I've missed you!); and I discovered new products to add to my can't-live-without list (seriously, fresh mozzarella cheese sticks?!). I filled my cart high, and let out a happy sigh when the cashier rang up my bill, which was astonishingly low, as it always somehow is at the store.
Of course, by the time I paid for gas to get there, a hotel room the night before (because why not make it into a little vacation?), meals, and the ice to pack it all up to take home, I certainly didn't come out ahead, but getting my fix was worth it. Will I travel four hours regularly to keep getting it? Probably not unless gas prices take a serious plunge, but I'll certainly be sending my list with anyone I know who's going down that way.
How far would you go to get to your favorite grocery store?
Image via Julie Ryan Evans