Trader Joe's is my Piazza. (piazza=town square) (the one in Florham Park NJ specifically!)
I go there not only to shop...but to commune, to connect, to feel like part of something.
This particular store has always had a core of employees that don’t seem or act like they are working…only like they are hanging out in a place they like to be, yet the place is always neat and clean and customer service is amazing. If something is out of stock they immediately go and check to see if there is something in the stockroom or they will check the incoming shipments to let you know when it will be in. And of course I love their simple, yet varied selection of products!
I have a set path of how I zig zag thru the store and about ¾ of my way around … I make it to the back corner to get my little shot of coffee and sometimes taste their cooking demo. Usually Tom or Pam or Rich or someone else I know is there and I feel for a moment like I’m in Italy at the bar getting my afternoon espresso and having a quick chat with my friend who just served me … They ask how my day is going, what I’m cooking or how my kids are doing and if my one son is back from overseas yet… they know me. I like that. It feels good. We don’t have enough of that community feel in most places. I go into other stores and even if they are places I frequent… I don’t know anyone. And they don’t know me.
At my local huge Stop and Shop-only a block from my house, I’ve made friends with Ray, the baker, out of the gazillion people that work there… I will make my way over to his department just to say hi! It’s a hike to go to the end of that store for 1 hello when I only go in for one thing. But no matter what… there is something about finding connection that we need in life. So, I go say HI and get my hug!
But, back to my Trader Joes store… back to my large group of friends, like Elaina, Rita, Ali, Nancy, Josh, Mike, Joe, Shelley who loves to sing, and Gwenda whose smile has been greeting me since I first started shopping there almost 20 years ago- and all the rest… and I’m even still friends with people who have moved on from there …Lisa and Lew and others who went before… Oh and Christine the former manager who is at another store now… she really set the tone years ago I believe and I have to thank Gabby (current manager) for keeping it going!
When you frequent a place that makes you happy every time you go there… you find that like me, you go more often…sometimes just because I want to and don’t need to!. I never go there expecting to rush out, because when I go there it’s an experience…. Not just food shopping.
Mai-Lin and my dear friend Jeff two of the assistant managers are the absolute best and make me feel like their favorite customer every time I go in. I’m sure they make every customer feel the same way that gets to know them, but I like to think I’m special!!! Haha!
If you go into that store… and don’t make friends with the employees… there is something wrong with you!
So, whenever I need a quick pick-me-up(ok and some groceries!)… and none of my friends are around… I just go see my friends at TJ’s… they will give me a smile, stop for a chat, give me a hug even and make me feel important. I always leave with both a smile and yet some sadness… the smile because I just had some connection that will get me thru the day… and sadness only because I’m walking out when I’d rather pull up a chair and hang out longer!
I thank God for them because most days they are my only human connection… and … well… they give me hope… that I can turn things around and change the world.
This rare eclectic group of awesome people at my Trader Joe’s believe in my Back to the Table mission.
So, between me and them.
One hello and one table at a time. We’ll change the world.
Where is YOUR piazza?
Trader Joe's Florham Park (604) 176 Columbia Turnpike Florham Park, NJ 07932 973-377-0679
Go there---tell them Dorina sent you!!!
(These are the flowers some of the employees gave me for my birthday this past week! Too cool!!!)