Trader Joe’s Magic, Revealed!

In whoring for a comments invite and proving his worth, Jesse Friedman sent in his term paper he wrote on Trader Joe’s. Now that’s what we call vetting!

We enjoyed and agreed with the thesis that Trader Joe’s, and its ilk, “reenchants the consumption process.” That is a nice turn of phrase.

Furthermore, Friedman posits that TJ’s draws upon the Romantic era, with its belief in “the forces of nature within man, the passions and promptings of the id, which came to be regarded as the ultimate source of all thought, feeling, and action.” From this legacy and its emphasis on imagination comes “modern autonomous imaginative hedonism,” which leads consumers to dream about the pleasures of consumption, only to become disappointed when the actual product fails to live up to expectations.”

We spent one summer working at retro-themed burger bistro Johnny Rocket’s and let us tell you, those customers were distracted from their average burgers and fries by the table top jukeboxes and the servers renditions of “Love Shack.”

Trader Joe’s is a delightful sham, a dog-and-pony workout video in which complicit consumers dance dance to the checkout line. In essence, people are willing to pay for shopping to not be so lame.

The Reenchantment of Food Shopping” [Jesse Friedman]