Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Starting an argument at Trader Joe's

At Trader Joe's, like at nearly every other shopping establishment, there are the impulse buy items near the checkout stands. At the Lake Merritt TJ's in Oakland, the single line that feeds into many checkout stands can get long, but it moves quickly most days. The impulse buy area includes some relatively healthy stuff, but as you get closer to the front, it's chocolate, baby, so deal with it! The latest addition is the Chocolate Palette, this attractively bundled selection of eight different chocolate bars from around the world.

Ten bucks for eight chocolate bars.

Have they misjudged their market? Don't get me wrong, TJ's isn't Wal-Mart. It isn't all about the low prices, but low prices are almost always an option. There are $20+ bottles of wine as well as the Two Buck Chuck. You can get a cheap vodka like Burnett's or Vodka of the Gods, but you also have the fancy schmancy Grey Goose and Finlandia and Skyy options for your tasteless, odorless alcohol enjoyment. To be fair, they come in lovely bottles.

So I brought this up in line, and there were several opinions. Some agreed with me that as an impulse buy, the price is too high because it makes you stop and think. Some thought it might be a nice gift or a thoughtful thing to bring to a party. One older woman, when several of us got to jawing about it, picked up the package and seriously gave it consideration. In some ways, I felt as though she was doing it just to show us that she wasn't a cheap ass broke mofo like the rest of us. Maybe I'm a little sensitive about this right now.

In the end, she put it back. "Ten bucks. Too much." she said.

With all the various options for wonderful chocolate at TJ's, some of them almost as much of a bargain in chocolate as Two Dolly Cholly is in wine, would you be tempted?


Undersquid said...

No temptation for me. With the eye-catching wrapping and the exotic locations, it sure beckons the wallet, but I could use those ten bucks toward the purchase of flour, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and butter. By the time those items hit my pantry, some would probably move on to more nutritious destinies. Mostly.

Speaking of nice gifts, I'm reading more and more in newspapers and blogs that this Christmas people are going to buy second hand or make their own presents, as there isn't money to go around for wild, extravagant gifts such as a ten-dollar chocolate selections.

But that's just my tightened belt talking.

FranIAm said...

In 2007 - yes.

In 2008 - no! Not at all! Well tempted perhaps but would not pick it up or buy it.

Matty Boy said...

Yeah, the tightened belt talks pretty loud right now.

Also, if you click on the "Trader Joe's" label, I wrote about a post about a year ago about the Belgian dark chocolate available at the checkout counter, three bars about the size of a Hershey bar for $1.50 total. Half a bar out of the refrigerator with a glass of Two Buck Chuck is about as happy as 75 cents can make me, and it's only six Weight Watcher points.

Such. A. Deal.

Given you can reach down and pick that up at the same counter, ten bucks for eight bars is pretty crazy.

anita said...

maybe i'm revealing my inner snob here, but i wouldn't cough up ten bucks for some "no name" chocolate. no matter what country it purports to be from.

i've gotten beyond the point where i believe that price=quality.

thank god for that. i'm FINALLY becoming an adult.

or a reasonable facsimile.

(hey, you ain't so bad matty ... sorry i gave you a hard time on slapz ... i was just ... well, giving you a hard time)


Matty Boy said...

Hi, Anita, thanks for stopping by. I was mean to no_slappz on his blog, there is no doubt, but I'm not all about the anger and the politics, as you can see.

Stopping by this week, you get to see the math, the lolz and the giant women, so it gives a rough idea of the wide and odd array of interests I have.

namastenancy said...

I wouldn't fork over $10 for some pretty wrapping paper. I'm a complete snob about sweets. I try to be careful and not eat too much because diabetes runs in my family. So, when I splurge on chocolate, it's the dark Belgian kind or something handmade from one of SF's small chocolate stores. There's one in the Castro that makes a dark chocolate crunch that is To Die For. But I know the appeal of impulse buys and have fallen into their clutches more than once.

dguzman said...

Definitely not for myself (don't like chocolate), though the "thoughtful gift" option appeals to me. Then it's only ten bucks for a gift--which isn't bad--and if the giftee likes chocolate, then the gifter looks brilliant. Yeah, honestly, I might go for it, but only as a gift. And only for a birthday or somesuch occasion. Ten bucks "just because" is steep. That's when I'd put 50 cents in a candy machine and give whatever little doodad to someone.

jolie said...

hmnmm ... that's a great question, matty boy.

how many ounces is each bar? cuz I'm thinkin' it sounds like it could be a good deal, like if it's eight bars @ 6 oz each, that's three pounds for $10. THAT's a buy!

BUT! is the chocolate any good? cheap chocolate isn't worth buying, no matter its price. so TJ could open up a couple bars for samples if they really want to move them.

the product has some great eye appeal. colorful & happy.

so, yeah, I think I'd give it a go, all things considered.

Matty Boy said...

Hi, jolie. I doubt the bars are 6 oz. a piece. Probably more like 3 or 4.

Jess Wundrun said...

Trader Joe's is Aldi with better packaging. (Same German owners).

Marc Schoenfeld said...

I have to say, I'm 1/2 through (just finished Dominican Republic) and I love this collection. I bought another for my mom, but I might just have to keep it for myself now (she wouldn't appreciate it as much). I think it's totally worth the price. But my local TJ (SF, Bay st.) said they are totally out of stock at all stores. So there was a big run on this item, or the stock was pretty low. I've enjoyed most of the countries so far.

Matty Boy said...

Thanks for stopping by with the review, Marc. I can believe the out of stock statement. I've been to my local in Oakland and also to stores in Alameda and Castro Valley and the chocolate palette is nowhere to be found.

Glad to hear you are happy with the experience.

jill said...

I guess I'm a sucker 'cause I bought this palette, coughed up $9.99 for it and have no regrets. Actually, I bought two. One for me and one as a gift. I'm happy as a chocolate covered clam.