An Open Letter to Trader Joes.
Dear Trader Joes,
My name is Melissa Jordan and most of our family’s food budget each month is spent in your stores. I love that the majority of your items are dye free. I love that you use none GMO ingredients in all of your house brands. I love your cheap tempranillo wine and your frozen garlic naan like nobody’s business.
But today, I’d like to lodge a complaint. It’s regarding those tiny kid-sized red carts that you put out at the front of the store. At first glance, I found them charmingly pint-sized and fun. But I made the poor decision of letting my three year old daughter use one and quickly watched as all hell broke loose.
The bigger problem here is that I am subjected to this madness EVERY TIME we set foot in your store. My daughter, Everly, makes a bee line for the carts. Since that fated day when I mistakingly introduced her, she refuses to shop without one. She is three, so our options are hysterical public freak out or relent. On the days that we discover all of the tiny carts are in use, I secretly cheer inside. Typically, there is at least one there waiting for her. Since I usually shop for a weeks worth of groceries, I also have to get a standard cart. I began repetively telling my daughter to stay with me. pay attention. no, we don’t need that.
It is at this point that my daughter decides to play her own toddler version of supermarket sweep. Anything at eye level with interesting packaging is getting thrown in her cart while I pull them back out and put them back where they belong. I once unknowingly purchased 3 jars of sunflower seed butter she had tossed in without my knowledge.
Heaven help us when we get to the chocolate/candy selection. I physically plant myself between her and the sweets. “We don’t need those. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.” I do try to direct her towards the foods that are on our list. She happily picks out the bananas, breakfast bars, and apple sauce to put in her cart.
Trader Joes is always a mad house. The people of Raleigh get genuinely crazy eyed about low cost organic meats and freezer burritos. I have had my car rammed because I momentarily blocked the path to the guy handing out samples of pink lemonade.
The aisles are packed and we are barely squeezing by. Everly isn’t paying attention and narrowly misses ramming a couple of shoppers straight in the heels. By this point, I have one hand on my own cart and one hand on her shoulder trying to keep her on track and prevent her from causing serious injury to others. I have broken out into a sweat.
We make it to the dairy aisle, and while I put yogurt and cheese in my cart (gah, your cheese selection KILLS me. So good), my daughter has decided to abandon her cart all together. I now have a big cart, a small cart, and a 3 year old who is casually gravitating back to the candy aisle while pretending not to hear me as I shout “Everly! Get back here! We’re almost done. Everly!” Another mother gives me a look of pity, and it’s likely she has also experienced tiny cart hell. It is only when I threaten to hand Everly’s cart over to another a child does she turn on her heels and come back to me.
I can see the end in site. Everly is sticking around now, but has no interest in pushing her cart so I am literally navigating the last aisle of the store pushing two carts at varying heights while my toddler holds onto my pant leg. She refuses to sit in the kids seat part of my big cart. Not even promises of a yogurt covered star cookie can convince her to do so. A young man in a hawaiian shirt carrying a large question mark on a stick stops me to ask if I am finding everything ok. I want to ask him on which aisle can I find my sanity.
It takes a 6 point turn to get through the last bend of the wine aisle without breaking anything. There is a man in the checkout line in front of me. He has two tiny carts, both holding a few groceries and no one else in sight. I look at him and he blurts out that his kids and wife left him to pay for everything while they went to the car. I smile in sympathy and tell him I have been there. I watch as he pushes both carts, each holding a single grocery bag back to the front of the store where he discards the small, red carts with a joyous shove.
I write to you today to share my experience and in the hopes that you will help parents like myself have a more enjoyable shopping experience. Perhaps you can hide them in the back and only give them to people who request them. Perhaps there is a contraption out there that can attach it to a regular cart. Or perhaps the
parental regret on wheels