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Last week, we dropped by the newly opened Trader Joe’s in Lincoln Park to stock up our pantry. Before we even got to the store, we already knew what to expect from good ole’ Trader Joe’s: super-chipper staff outfitted in Hawaiian shirts, a reliable “island style” bell-ringing PA system that was devised to communicate with the in-house crew (ding!), an endless selection of packaged goods and frozen food, and, as always, an unfortunately meh section of fresh produce as you first enter the store.
The approximately 15,000 square-foot TJLP straddles the border of Lincoln Park and East Lakeview on Diversey Parkway, and has been hailed as kind of a “savior” to this shopping strip that was almost on its last legs. Once profitable stores such as Pier 1 Imports and Barnes and Noble have gone kaput, replaced by the much hipper and less “mom jeans” Akira and Urban Outfitters. This newly-constructed building has three floors—the top two (including an open rooftop) houses 100 parking spaces exclusive to Trader Joe's. Cheap-and-chic furniture outlet Domicile was long speculated to take over the second floor of this building, however, that deal seemed to have fizzled somewhere along the way.
Inside the store, we skipped right by the fresh produce section. Instead we crisscrossed the mega-wide aisles and picked up a box of Joe’s O’s ($1.99), three kinds of ravioli: lobster, arugula and cheese, and artichoke ($2.99 to $3.49), coconut milk mochi ($4.99), plus to top it off, dark chocolate covered Powerberries ($3.49). We also hunted for bags of those crunchy “reduced guilt” sea-salted pita chips, however, discovered they were mysteriously stocked across the aisle from the chip section and placed next to the crackers. Are pita chips technically crackers?
Sports memorabilia from major Chicago teams Bears, White Sox, Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks hang proudly above the cash registers (because nothing says Chicago like sports memorabilia). In the usual TJ’s customer service fashion, check-out was pleasant, smooth, and fast. (Note: we thought the coconut milk mochi tasted kinda weird.)