Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Unsung Heroes #33

It’s the middle of winter. The weather will get worse before it gets better. The flu season is the most deadly since the pandemic of 1918, or something like that. Everyone in town is sneezy and grumpy.

It’s time for a smile.

That’s what you — and everyone else — gets the moment we walk into Trader Joe’s.

It doesn’t matter if there’s no one in line, or the entire town has descended to buy milk, bread and eggs because an inch of snow is forecast.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 9 a.m., midday or seconds before closing.

The staff at Trader Joe’s is astonishingly — and always — upbeat, helpful, friendly, genuinely interested, and (a retail rarity for sure) efficient.

They smile when they ring you up. They smile when they tell you those berries look bad, and ring the bell so someone else can fetch better ones. They smile as you fumble through your change, then tell you to forget those pennies — no problem!

They smile when people grab the daily samples, without so much as a “thank you.” They smile as they corral shopping carts outside in the freezing cold, because too many people are too lazy to return them themselves.

They even smile when you complain about the parking lot, over which they have absolutely no control and hate as much as you do.

Everyone has his or her favorite Trader Joe’s guy or girl. But really, they’re all special.

Which is why everyone who works at the Westport Trader Joe’s is this week’s Unsung Hero.

The Washington Post Calls Tomorrow’s Storm A “Bomb Cyclone.” Today, Everyone Raced To The Store.

Actually, the entire headline was: “‘Bomb Cyclone’ to Blast East Coast Before Polar Vortex Uncorks Tremendous Cold Late This Week.”

And you thought President Trump holding a big Nuclear Button was bad!

This was the scene a little after noon at Trader Joe’s:

Actually, the photo does not do justice to the scene. The line stretched all the way back to Chipotle.

Similar scenes were repeated at Stop & Shop, Fresh Market, and any place else that sells milk, eggs and toilet paper.

So get ready, guys! 3 to 6 inches of blowing, drifting snow is on the way!

06880″ BONUS: Click here for the official Winter Storm Watch.

EXTRA SPECIAL “06880” BONUS: Click here for that full Washington Post story.

No Way!

Part of the granite tombstone — er, sign — at the entrance to Trader Joe’s has met an ignoble end.

The part that said “One Way” is gone.

I’m amazed someone slammed into it. It was pretty hard to miss.

(Photos/Seth Schachter)

On the other hand, perhaps this was deliberate. It was not the most welcoming sign around.

Besides, making that contorted turn from in front of Jersey Mike’s — to exit via the worst traffic light in the galaxy — is enough to drive someone to pick up a sledgehammer.

Of course, this might have been a wayward truck driver, trying a turn he’s not supposed to make.

I’m just sayin’….


Today’s Trader Joe’s Stupid Parking Trick

(Photo/Howard Silver)

Trader Joe's 2

(Photo/Barbara Jay)

Photo Challenge #124

I thought last week’s photo challenge was different — and tough.

Seth Schachter sent along a shot of 2 kids on the Compo Beach cannons. The question was not where the cannons are (duh), but where you’d find the image itself.

We’ve all seen it. Because everyone in Westport shops at Trader Joe’s.

John Terpening was the first person to guess correctly. He even knew that the exact spot is above the vegetable section. So he wins a year’s supply of free samples at Trader Joe’s.

Following closely with correct answers were Bruce Miller and Susan Schmidt.

Here’s this week’s challenge. If you think you know where you’ll see this — and what it is — click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

Food Rescue US Sinks Deep Westport Roots

If you’re like me, you’ve probably given little — if any — thought to the enormous amount of food that restaurants and grocery stores throw away every day.

If you’re like Simon Hallgarten and Stephanie Webster though, you have.

The Westporters — he’s a founding partner of Northview Hotel Group, she’s editor-in-chief of CTbites — are national board members of Food Rescue US.

The organization — known until this past January as Community Plates — fills a simple, important, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that mission: moving fresh, usable food that would have been thrown away by restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources, to families that desperately need it.

The national Food Rescue US group has a strong local presence. Under Hallgarten and Webster’s leadership, Westport has become a big town for food donors — and as “food rescuers.”

Whole Foods cannot possibly sell all its food. It’s a leader in offering its unused goods to people in need.

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market are longtime donors. Many smaller stores and restaurants participate too.

Right now, 40 Westport volunteers transport food to shelters, kitchens and pantries in Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford. Over the past few years, more than 350 Westporters have helped.

Many bring their children on food rescue missions. “It’s an important lesson for our kids who otherwise are sheltered from the harsher side of life, and the struggles that many families go through every day,” Hallgarten — who started his career as a chef — says.

Ziggy Hallgarten — Simon’s son, an All-State soccer goalkeeper and current lacrosse player at Staples — and his younger brother Ollie are food rescuers.

Ollie Hallgarten, with a vehicle full of donated (“rescued”) food.

“It’s an easy way to give back to a large community at once,” Ziggy says. “With an hour’s worth of driving, you can change the lives of so many.”

On his first run with his dad 2 years ago, Ziggy was shocked to see some of his favorite foods — perfectly edible — about to be thrown away.

They filled the back of their station wagon, and drove “pounds and pounds of food” from a New Canaan grocery store to a Stamford homeless shelter.

“The locations of my deliveries changed during the couple of years I’ve been a food rescuer,” Ziggy says. “But the priceless smiles of the recipients when I’ve driven up with boxes of food never ceases to amaze me.”

He brought friends on runs too, showing them the feasibility — and ease — of saving otherwise wasted food.

Though Food Rescue US is a volunteer driven (ho ho) operation, there are of course administrative and other costs. So this year’s fundraiser — “Food for All 2017: An Evening to End Hunger” — is very important.

Set for next Wednesday (April 26, 6:30 p.m., The Loading Dock in Stamford), it features over 15 tasting plates from top Fairfield County chefs, along with beer, wine and craft cocktails. Every $1 donated helps cover 20 rescued meals.

Westport sponsors for Wednesday’s fundraiser include Whole Foods, Moffly Media, and the Elizabeth and Joseph Massoud Family Foundation. Fleishers Craft Kitchen and Whole Foods are among the participating food vendors.

“Hunger is an issue that can be fixed,” Simon Hallgarten says. “Food Rescue US’ goal of ending hunger in not a crazy pipe dream. It’s a reality — if we reach critical mass in the next decade.”

In Westport — thanks to so many restaurants, stores and volunteers — we’re almost there.

(For more information on the April 26 “Food for All” fundraiser, including tickets, click here.)

Yes, This Is An Actual Parking Job At Trader Joe’s. No, It’s Not A Late April Fool’s Joke.

Here’s another view. Yes, he left his door open the entire time.

When alert — and astonished — “06880” reader David Meth asked the driver if he couldn’t find a parking spot, the response was: “F— you!”

You can’t make this s— up.

Give A Little Le Rouge Love: The Sequel

On Sunday, “06880” gave a shout-out to Aarti Khosla. The owner of Le Rouge — the fantastic downtown artisan chocolate shop — is offering handmade hearts for just $5 each. She wants folks to give them to people who have made a difference in someone’s life. “Give a Little Love,” she calls her campaign.

Yesterday, there were lines out the door. Today, countless customers handed out untold numbers of chocolate hearts. What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Aarti welcomes photos of the recipients. She’ll display them on a “Wall of Love” in her cafe.

You’ll want to see it. But here’s a sneak peek:


That’s Doris Ghitelman, bestowing her random act of kindness on Shy, one of Trader Joe’s superb employees.

“She always greets me with a smile, and inspires me with her generous spirit and drive,” Doris says. “Today I let her know how much I appreciate her.”

Doris adds: “When she’s not working at Trader Joe’s, Shy is an immigration law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.”

Aarti’s campaign runs all through February. So there’s plenty of time for all of us to join Doris and Shy, and “give a little love.”

Trader Joe’s Bouquet

Joyce Joiner — who calls herself a “moderately alert ‘06880’ reader” — writes:

I always wonder why there are so many disgruntled comments on this blog.

In the 9 years I’ve lived here I’ve reaped the benefits of this charming town: Compo Beach, Longshore, friendly bartenders, nice kids … it’s a pretty nice place to live!

Today, after a snowy walk to Trader Joe’s — where I got some flowers for my mom, who’s in the hospital — Trudy and I had our regular fond exchange about our cats, my mom, etc.

She noticed how tired I looked. When I told her I was at the hospital a lot, she pulled one bouquet away and said, “This is on me, honey.”

But wait! There’s more!

The chip reader needed rebooting. It was taking a long time. Trudy was ready to say, “Just go! I’ll get it. You can pay me back.”

The chip reader came to life.

And I — happily walking in the snow, to Uber it to Norwalk Hospital — did too!


Joyce Joiner’s mom, and her flowers.


Farrow & Ball’s Window On Westport

Unless you’re a 5th Avenue department store at Christmas, it’s tough to get folks to look in your window.

It’s especially difficult when you’re located next to Trader Joe’s in Westport. You’re set back from the Post Road — and who can pay attention when you’re weaving in and out of traffic at 40 miles an hour, anyway?

But that has not stopped Farrow & Ball from trying.

The intriguing Farrow & Ball window invites you to peek inside.

The intriguing Farrow & Ball window invites you to peek inside.

The UK-based paint-and-paper crafts shop has 14 US showrooms. As part of an AIDS awareness and fundraising initiative with DIFFA — Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS — each location chose a local designer to create a window based on the theme “Comfort and Cure.”

Westport’s Farrow & Ball selected Connie Cooper. She wanted to make her design intriguing from inside the store, as well as the street.

She imagined the vignette as the home office of an international doctor, home relaxing during the holidays. She found an antique bag from 1948, filled with all kinds of vintage doctor tools. It belonged to an actual naval physician.

And here's the view from inside.

And here’s the view from inside.

It’s a cool window. But you should do more than just glance at it, as you fly toward your parking space by Trader Joe’s.

Every time someone shares a photo of the window on social media (#FaBForDIFFA), the firm donates $1 to AIDS research.

It’s up for a couple of more weeks. So hurry! (But drive safely…)

(An open house at Farrow & Ball from 5-7 p.m. this Thursday [January 19] salutes window creator Connie Cooper. Guests receive a goody bag, while supplies last.)