Trader Joe’s Woes

‘Twas four days before Christmas and all through…

Trader Joe’s parking lot in downtown Walnut Creek …

This parking lot was the subject of some co-workers’ grievances lately. One complained about the difficulty of ever finding a place to park.

Another complained about this particular phenomenon, surrounding the parking lot, which I myself was recently caught in. This is when you’re ever traveling south on California Boulevard, past Bothelo Drive, heading toward Newell Avenue. And you happen to be in the left-hand southbound lane.

Then you get caught behind some bozo trying to make that left turn into the TJ’s parking lot. Actually, I am sometimes that bozo holding up traffic by trying to make that left turn. Anyway, what is particularly irksome is when that bozo (me or someone else) can’t make that left turn—and holds up all the motorists behind us—because there is a line of cars backed up in the TJ’s lot. And the reason cars are backed up in the parking lot? That’s usually because a motorist up ahead is waiting for another motorist to back out and leave an open space.

And, even if you’re not planning to shop at TJ’s, but you’re traveling south, in that left-hand lane on California Boulevard, you’re likely to get stuck in the TJ’s parking imbroglio.

After TJ’s opened in the fall of 2006, its parking lot was constantly packed, and there was a lot of concern that the lot couldn’t accommodate shoppers coming to the new Elephant Pharmacy which opened in the summer of 2007.

Well, I haven’t noticed the arrival of Elephant Pharmacy, an emporium that sells conventional and herbal medications, as well as other health and wellness products, has made that much difference in the parking lot tangle. I wonder if this satellite of the Berkeley-based pharmacy chain gets that many customers. I don’t go in too often, but when I do, it seems like I’m one of the few shoppers in there, and the clerks look desperate and bored.
Meanwhile, my TJ’s parking experience, contrary to my co-worker’s complaint, has been more fortunate of late. I usually don’t have trouble finding parking when I stop in after work to grab something quick to throw together for dinner, or when I stop in on the weekends. Even this past Sunday, four days before Christmas, I easily found a parking spot, and I didn’t have to deal with long lines at the check-out. Maybe everyone was waiting to shop on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Or maybe, as some consumer experts have said, people are tightening their shopping belts, even at TJ’s.

Actually, my big challenge with TJ’s is that I always see someone I know when I stop in—neighbors, the president of the PTA at my son’s school, people I know through work, including a former congressional aide to Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher–even my therapist.

Sometimes, it’s nice to run into these people and chat, like the mom from my son’s preschool I hadn’t seen in a while. Sometimes, I’m not in a very social mood, particularly right after work, when I’m rushing to get home to make dinner, and, at that point, I’m generally sick of talking to anyone because I’ve been talking to people all day.

And sometimes—psst—I don’t want anyone to see the bottles of Two Buck Chuck Cabernet Sauvignon nestling at the bottom of my shopping cart. These people will think I’m 1) cheap; 2) a lush; 3) a cheap lush.

8 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Woes

  1. What’s up with Elephant Pharmacy. my neighbor’s all into it, but I go in there and see they sell food and overpriced cosmestics. It seems kind an elitist place. So very Berkeley and full of itself. Do they really think they can make here? Were more down to earth here than the Berkeley ivory tower.


  2. After I realized it’s ok to turn left into TJ’s I also decided to do it, realizing people behind me would get stuck. Sorry. As for me, when I’m going to Whole Foods I know to stay in the right lane and many times zoom by the stuck cars.


  3. I go to Elephant pharmacy occasionally, usually on a whim. Picked up some vitamins, children’s toys, food etc. It certainly is less crowded than TJs.As for not being crowded, I can say that about quite a few WC shops. Guess which one is the LEAST crowded of them all. I will bet you it’s the Le Creuset store near the movie theater. That place is always empty. The location is terrible. On the corner where the Viking store is you can’t even see it! They should have moved it closer to Williams Sonoma, get a lot more foot traffic I bet.


  4. I have only shopped at Elephant Pharmacy a couple of times. Both have been when I was looking for natural solutions to common ailments. I’ve learned recently that cold medicines are not recommended for children, so I prefer to treat common colds, ear infections, etc. with natural solutions. The staff at Elephant Pharmacy is extremely helpful and will make recommendations. I found them more helpful than the staff in the Whole Foods vitamin/medicine section. Also, the prices were reasonable once I knew what i was looking for (I chose the cheapest brand).I am curious about their classes, which I haven’t tried yet. It’s not common to find free classes like yoga, especially around here! They also have chair massage in the daytime, but it seemed odd when the masseuse approached me with a coupon while I was shopping in the store.Overall, it’s worth checking it out! And start paying attention to what you are feeding and medicating your children! I do agree that it’s strange that they carry food, particularly if TJs is next door. That’s a new thing.


  5. I agree that Elephant Pharmacy sells a lot of great, natural remedies for common ailments. I’ve gone in there myself and received something to help with sleep. And the staff is very helpful. I haven’t tried any of their free classes. I just wonder if it’s going to make it, because, like Soccer Mom says, I never see a lot of people in there when I go in.


  6. Elephant is great for bulk herbs and spices. I refilled my cinnamon for under a buck. Overpriced cosmetics that aren’t made with a bunch of petroleum based crap, I’ll buy it.


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