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December 3, 2010


OMG OMG OMG Trader Joe’s is open!

by Deena Winter

Yes, this line is about 20 people long.

But you probably knew that, if you’re even a casual reader of the Lincoln Journal Star — which by my count has published no less than 10 stories mentioning the possible, impending and actual Coming of Joe since mid-summer.
Sigh. This is called newsroom love. Certain people in the newsroom are overly excited about a certain store they love, and so the paper writes and writes and writes about it. Granted, readers seemed pretty excited about Trader Joe’s too, given the number of breathless comments each two-paragraph update would generate.
I even got into trouble once when Trader Joe’s liquor license was approved by the Lincoln City Council, and I didn’t write about it. I very rarely wrote about liquor licenses being approved, and didn’t think it was newsworthy.
I have to wonder what all the other grocery stores in Lincoln think about all those Trader Joe stories the Journal Star is writing, given that they (the existing stores) are the paper’s bread and butter. And something tells me Trader Joe’s is not going to be a big Journal Star advertiser, since I got my first ad from them in the mail yesterday.
Not that that should influence the editors’ decisions about how much coverage is appropriate for the opening of a “quirky” (their words) California-based store.
Anyway, I ventured into Trader Joe’s today to see what all the fuss was about, and a line stretched from the first checkout counter to halfway down the first aisle. No lie.
I snapped a picture and left. I’ll check it out again when the mobs leave. In the meantime, I’m going to stick to my favorite neighborhood grocery store, Leon’s. Whenever even two people stack up in a line, they call in more checkers. And the money they make goes to local owners. They’re not as hip and trendy as Trader Joe’s, but they’re mine.

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fletch
    Dec 3 2010

    Sorry to see your attitude about the store before you even give it a try. I greatly look forward to it, as I’ve become a fan by shopping there in the Twin Cities. It won’t replace Super Saver or Hyvee for us by any stretch, but it’s a great change of pace short of getting a Whole Foods.

    I think part of Matt Olberding’s fascination and repeated writings is that Trader Joe’s has been (for a long time) one of the most asked about businesses at his Biz Buzz blog. I think only P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory garner as many comments, and “I wish they would come to Lincoln” postings.

    That may have skewed his perception of the demand for the store and the cravings of the public. Of course, based on the lines on opening day, it’s no fluke. The Twitterverse has been abuzz, but nowhere near the level of when Five Guys landed in Lincoln.

    I’d say take a pill and give the store a try – it’s fun and it doesn’t mean you have to give up Leon’s. There’s probably very little crossover between the two stores as to what they carry.

  2. Roger Yant
    Dec 3 2010

    Thanks for the story Deena! As you know I agree about shopping locally. So much FREE hype from the Journal, do they give this kind of coverage to locally owned businesses that opens here in town. It’s a shame the way it was talked about. We have great locally owned stores in town that can do the same, and as you said, the money stays in town. Open Harvest, Leons, Ideal, Wagners and so many more. People, stop, think about it, what do they really have you can’t get elsewhere in town. I too will shop the locally owned stores.

  3. Matt Olberding
    Dec 6 2010

    I personally did three stories about Trader Joe’s — one that said they had applied for a liquor permit, which meant they were likely headed here, another after they got approval for the permit from the City Council, a hearing at which a Trader Joe’s official gave info about when the store might open an how many new jobs it would create, and a short story when the company officially announced the store with an opening date. I’m aware of one other story we did specifically about Trader Joe’s. By contrast, when Hy-Vee opened Heartland Pantry, I did no fewer than half a dozen stories about it, while Deena did several more. As for covering local stores, we did a story on Open Harvest’s expansion last year as well as another a few weeks ago when they hired a new GM. I also wrote a feature about the new locally-owned cooking store that opened at 70th and Van Dorn a few weeks ago. And if I’m the person who’s mentioned as having “reporter love” for Trader Joe’s, that’s interesting, since I’ve never been to one and have no idea if I’ll ever go to the one at SouthPointe. I have no problem taking criticism, as long as it’s factually based.

  4. Dec 6 2010

    I was not referring to you specifically, Matt. It’s more of an overall newsroom love for Trader Joe’s that leads to many stories and mentions in stories by many people. I should have been more clear.

  5. Micah Mertes
    Dec 6 2010

    Shouldn’t a newspaper’s job, one of them anyway, be to reflect the excitement of a community event? Whether it be Husker game, music concert or store opening?

    There was a palpable buzz surrounding the opening of Trader Joe’s. Your photo at the top of this post proves that.

    I think Matt and Kathy Moore did a nice job of recognizing the fervor and covering it. Also, I ran a “Trader Joe’s” search on and only found four stories total, not including sidebars. But you’re probably better at counting than me.

    And why’s it snowing?

  6. Dec 6 2010

    When the local paper writes about a store opening 10 times (yes, 10, you better count again — and that’s not counting mere mentions like the one in the lede of Korb’s story today), you have to ask whether the paper is generating the buzz or it’s organic. It’s fine. I’m happy for Trader Joe fans, but think the paper goes overboard sometimes. There are many important stories/issues that deserve that kind of coverage, but aren’t getting it.
    And it’s snowing because it’s winter, silly boy.

  7. Don Carlson
    Dec 6 2010

    “I think the paper goes overboard sometimes”

    -You mean the way YOU took a handful of crazy people meeting at a Library and turned them into the folk hero “No2Arena” group? How everytime they released an idiotic press release it was BIG NEWS? How you named the time and location of their meetings beforehand and promoted them into something they weren’t and then glorified them into “David vs. Goliath”? Is that what you mean by the paper going overboard?

  8. Stacy
    Dec 6 2010

    In how many of those articles were other new stores also mentioned? I went back and looked and 3/4 of them were articles about things that were opening soon all over Lincoln. Are you implying that Trade Joe’s should not be mentioned because they’ve already been mentioned in previous “What’s coming” articles? That would be silly, since not everyone is guaranteed to of seen the original articles.

    I’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s, but I don’t plan on basing my opinion of them based on how often the LJS may or may not of mentioned them. I also wouldn’t be complaining that you have just received your first paid advertising from a company. That seriously is just tacky to be honest… and a great way to alienate your client base.

  9. Dec 6 2010

    Stacy… you misunderstood. I didn’t mean that was an ad for my blog. It was just an advertisement that was mass-mailed. I have not even begun to try to solicit advertising. 🙂

  10. Dec 6 2010

    Did you pick the busiest time of day to go? I hate to say it, but TJ’s offers a lot of things at better prices than many other Lincoln stores, namely low prices and great quality, especially on things like cheese and wine.

    Sure we do most of our grocery shopping at Ideal and I look for specialty organic products from Open Harvest, but TJ’s has items that you can’t get at either of those stores. I’m sure that TJ’s was busy during it’s opening weekend, but when I went on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. I didn’t have to wait in line at the check out.

  11. Dec 6 2010

    I have to wonder how many quality news stories really went unreported because the LJS ran some stories about Trader Joe’s.

  12. Stacy
    Dec 6 2010

    “Stacy… you misunderstood. I didn’t mean that was an ad for my blog. It was just an advertisement that was mass-mailed. I have not even begun to try to solicit advertising.”

    I stand corrected.

    I just find your opinion odd, like there is some inside joke that we’re not privy too. It’s odd that you are shocked that there would be a line, during the grand opening of the store. You mention that Leon’s opens a new checkout if there is a line, do you know for a fact that Trade Joe’s was not doing that and perhaps couldn’t open anymore because there were no more checkouts available? I find it odd that you are speculating that this company is not going to be paying for advertising to LJS based on the fact that *you* only received one ad. But most of all, I find it odd how misleading you’re being in regards to the articles that are being written, like Trader Joe’s is the main focus, when in truth, the majority of those articles are about new and coming businesses that are coming to Lincoln and mention lots of different businesses, not just this one.

    I guess I just don’t get the joke.


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