Login
Skip to content

Faith in Vermont: Trading Up

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 1148.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 165.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 165.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 165.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 599.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 599.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 181.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 136.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Declaration of image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images.inc on line 112.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_area::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_area.inc on line 81.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_area_text::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_area_text.inc on line 121.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.

Posted on November 17, 2015 | Blog Category:
By Faith Gong



A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to go to the Trader Joe’s grocery store in South Burlington.

Although this Trader Joe’s – the only one in Vermont – opened in May 2014, I had never visited it. I had, in fact, resisted opportunities to visit it, just as I generally resist chances to go to Costco, or Home Depot, or WalMart.

For one thing, a visit to any of these chain stores requires me to drive to the Burlington area. Listen: If I’m loading multiple young children into our minivan and driving an hour or more, it’s certainly not going to be in order to buy things. I’d rather save my money and stay home.

For another thing: I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, and Costco, and Home Depot, and WalMart. I’ve even been to Target and Ikea, neither of which exists in the state of Vermont at present. I went to all these places and more when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I know that, although people like to shop at these stores because they’re full of “good deals,” what they’re really full of is stuff that you don’t know you needed until you were surrounded by thousands of square feet of “good deals” crooning your name. These stores are not your friends; these stores, like all others, just want your money.

I didn’t move to Vermont to shop at Trader Joe’s; if anything, a major selling point of Vermont was its dearth of chain stores. Shopping shouldn’t be that easy; I’d far rather navigate the miniscule aisles of the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, with people judging me for allowing my toddler to stand up in the basket of our shopping cart, in order to pay four times what I’d pay at a big box grocery store.

I’m serious.

(For the record, I’ve never been as grateful for Vermont’s lack of retail hip-ness as I have been in the wake of the recent Starbucks-holiday-cup-gate. I could sit back and watch that silliness unfold from a blissfully ignorant distance. I have no idea where the nearest Starbucks is, but it’s at least an hour away. The last time I was in Starbucks was in Quebec City. That’s right: I had to leave the country in order to visit Starbucks.)

But my friend who invited me to Trader Joe’s was clever. She was bringing one of her own children along, and our children are friends. She promised that, after our shopping trip, we could all go to the ECHO Lake Aquarium. And she mentioned how nice it would be to have an hour in the minivan together to chat.

See how she did that? Suddenly this was not just a trip for buying things; it had a larger educational and social purpose. Also, it was a rainy day and my husband was out of town.

So I went.

Trader Joe’s was in full autumnal swing; we were greeted in the entryway by pumpkins and an overwhelming aroma of cinnamon. When we entered the store, with its familiar décor and products, I was transported back in time: I was in the Trader Joe’s in Emeryville, CA, and pregnant (I was always pregnant in California.)

It all came back to me, all of those specialty products that we’d delighted in half a decade ago: the sauces, spices, snack mixes. My two youngest daughters, who were along for the trip, were delighted with the murals, the cow figure above the dairy section, the stuffed cheetah mascot hidden somewhere in the store, and the children’s coloring area. It had been tough to get them excited about grocery shopping before the aquarium, but Trader Joe’s delivered.

Before I knew it, our cart was full and I was chatting with the cheeriest checkout clerk I’ve encountered in recent years. When I mentioned that it was our first visit to the store, he dinged the bell above his register and a complimentary Trader Joe’s tote bag materialized.

I left the store exhilarated, excited to show my family the goodies in my complimentary tote, and more than ready to return to Trader Joe’s. “That hour’s drive isn’t really so bad,” I told myself.  

At dinner a few days later, when I suggested we open one of the bottles of Charles Shaw wine (“Two Buck Chuck”) that I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s, my husband mentioned ethical concerns of which I hadn’t been aware: how, in 2008, an undocumented pregnant teenager had died from heat stroke after working more than nine hours in hundred-degree temperatures at a vineyard supplying Bronco Wine Company, which produces Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw line.

Leave it to a development economist to ruin all the fun.

So I won’t be buying any more Two Buck Chuck. But I will almost certainly be returning to Trader Joe’s.

Not too often, though. I will return to Trader Joe’s as long as my daughters consider it a special event, as long as they gaze in wide-eyed wonder at the murals and the cow figure, as long as they savor the unusual treats that we can only find at Trader Joe’s. If they become blasé and start taking Trader Joe’s for granted, I’ll be less inclined to make the trip. Because shopping shouldn’t be that easy.

 

Faith Gong has worked as an elementary school teacher, a freelance photographer, and a nonprofit manager. Since moving to Addison County in 2011, her work has involved caring for a house in the woods, four young daughters, one anxiety-prone labradoodle — and writing for her blog, The Pickle Patch.

Connect with us

Comments