You can’t say no to Joe
Dozens of Ithaca locals have been reporting cases of what is now being known as the Trader Joe’s fever, which experts say likely originated over Twitter. Doctors say the disease is highly contagious and are encouraging shoppers to exercise an “abundance of caution.” Vaccines were set to hit stores this week, but shelf space in the Ithaca location is currently occupied by a surplus of kombucha.
The entire frenzy stems from the highly-anticipated grand-opening of Trader Joe’s over on Meadow Street; just down the road from Wegmans, Aldi, Tops, Greenstar and Super Walmart.
But Ithaca is not alone in its hysteria.
Across the country, Trader Joe’s has become somewhat of a viral sensation. New stores have been popping up all across the U.S., as the increasingly widespread grocery chain seeks to spread its reach. Some have accused Trader Joe’s for being hell-bent on global domination. The company’s primary weapon appears to be its “Everything But the Bagel Seasoning,” which has reached international levels of popularity.
“We want to put our quality products into the mouths of every man, woman and child,” a spokesperson for the company said. “We will not stop until our store and our message has touched each and every potential customer.”
Over the past few months, Ithaca locals have been glued to their screens, intensely waiting for the latest updates on the store’s arrival. Now, it is finally here. At the Feb. 19 opening, hundreds of local residents flocked to Trader Joe’s, despite the City’s request that everyone stay at home.
“Trader Joe’s fever is a very real thing,” a city official said in a statement. “We urge people to remain indoors until everything calms down. We have to get used to this new normal.”
Unfortunately, few obeyed the City’s warnings. Most said they couldn’t believe the hype until they experienced it for themselves.
“I mean there were always rumours that Trader Joe’s might come to Ithaca, but no one really believed it,” one local resident told Buzzsaw reporters. “It seemed so far away, like a distant dream. Now that it’s actually here, well, I get chills just thinking about it.”
Those stuck waiting in the line to enter the store were greeted with free samples. Most were wearing face-coverings to protect themselves from the fever, but quickly took them off so they could enjoy the tempting crackers and cheese platter. Shoppers simply said it was “a risk they were willing to take.”
In the store, many folks said they were experiencing shortness of breath, but most attribute it to the shopping cart races that were being held in aisle 12. Others complained of having sore throats, but chalked it up to shouting at their children to put the Cocoa Crunch back on the shelf.
Some people were impressed by the store’s new scan guns, which allowed users to manually tag items and skip the checkout process. Still, many complained the technology was malfunctioning, telling certain customers they had a fever of 101 degrees.
Those who paid for groceries the old-fashioned way reported feeling completely “checked out” by the time the whole experience was over.
We caught up with one resident on her way back to Trader Joe’s, hoping to return the Cauliflower Gnocchi she had bought earlier.
“It’s the funniest thing,” she told us. “I took a bite, but I couldn’t taste a thing. It had no flavor, none at all.”
Still, products have been flying off the shelves and Trader Joe’s is struggling to keep up.
“We just weren’t prepared,” one employee admitted. “We had no idea there would be such a demand for supplies.”
But the store management assures us that more of Trader Joe’s beloved products are on the way.
“We’ve reached out to China to get more orders of our fan favorite, Mandarin Orange Chicken. We should be getting new cases of it any day now.”
Still, not everyone is happy about Trader Joe’s arrival. One particular resident, seen sporting a MAGA hat, expressed frustration about the store’s Spanish and Asian product lines, respectively titled under the Trader Jose’s and Trader Ming’s pseudonyms.
“I just want some good old American Trader Joe’s,” he proclaimed. “Why do they have to go and ruin it with all of this diversity crap?”
One shopper, a self-declared liberal, said she found the names to be offensive, but bought the products anyway. “I mean, I don’t appreciate them stereotyping all these ethnicities, but where else am I supposed to get authentic salsa?”
Other residents have complained that Trader Joe’s arrival is affecting too much of their daily lives.
“It’s all they talk about when I turn on the TV,” one resident said. “I can’t seem to escape it and it’s making my life absolutely miserable.”
Like it or not, it doesn’t seem like Trader Joe’s will be going away anytime soon. For now, those wishing for an end to the madness need only cover their eyes with a mask, avoid people and stay indoors
Ryan Bieber is a third-year journalism major who is currently engaged in a turf war between the reigning grocery store chains. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.